Jimmy Fund Walkers determined to raise money despite pandemic

Sept. 2, 2020 | Sarah Heinonen

WILBRAHAM – It may look different this year, but despite social distancing, thousands of people will hit the pavement on Oct. 4 to raise money for cancer in the annual Boston Marathon Jimmy Fund Walk presented by Hyundai.

For over 30 years, the Jimmy Fund Walk has been a fundraiser for the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, an award-winning cancer research and care organization that treats children and adults through the Boston Children’s Cancer and Blood Disorders Center and Brigham and Women’s Cancer Center, respectively.

Susan Burk of Wilbraham considers the event to be “philanthropic fitness.” She said, “If I didn’t have this walk I probably wouldn’t be as active as I am.” She called it a “win-win” for herself and Dana-Farber. This will be the 74-year-old woman’s 29th year taking part in the walk.

Burk isn’t the only one from Wilbraham walking for cancer this year. Rebecca Broches, Cari Carpenter, Jeffrey Kinder, William Kinder, and Jennifer Kinder will be taking part. Longmeadow residents Pam Chandler, William Packard, Betsy Bertuzzi, Lori Polep, Susan Kline, Ginny Levsky, and Justin Dion will also be walking, as will Branden Hrdlicka, Brittney Hrdlicka, and Amy Hrdlicka of East Longmeadow.

This year the walk is known as “the Jimmy Fund Walk: Your Way.” While the walk traditionally follows the 26.2-mile Boston Marathon route, pandemic-related restrictions of gatherings have resulted in participants designing their own course to walk, whether along a hiking trail, around their neighborhood or anywhere else.

“It’ll be different. It’s really nice to walk the route of the Boston Marathon and see how the route has changed,” Burk said. Instead, she said, “I have plotted out a one-mile route around my house and into the woods a bit.” Because there is a hill in her route, she said that she is aiming to walk the loop 18 times, rather than the traditional 26.2 miles.

 Since its inception, the Jimmy Fund Walk has raised more than $145 million for Dana-Farber. Due to the differences in the walk this year, the fundraising requirement has been reduced to $100 for adults and $25 for those 12 years old and younger.

“The walk has set a lower goal,” Burk said, “but I have a unique situation. I have a core group who support my walk and have supported me this year,” Burk said. She has already raised $4,200 toward her $5,000 goal. “Every bit helps Dana-Farber and I’m glad people are continuing to support the walk.”

The registration fee is $5 this year. Walkers will receive a bib and medal when they register. The first 5,000 walkers will receive a commemorative Jimmy Fund Walk T-shirt.

To register to walk or to support a walker visit www.JimmyFundWalk.org, call 866-531-9255 or download The Jimmy Fund Walk App in Charity Miles at danafarber.jimmyfund.org/site/DocServer/Walk_Web_CharityMilesAppDirections.pdf?docID=4287.

The app includes a miles tracker, lets people create a team and updates on social media to boost fundraising. There are also important walk-day news, content, training and fundraising challenges.

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