Walking toward  a cure

Rays of Hope breast cancer event Sunday will raise money for local efforts

GREENFIELD — Downtown Greenfield will turn pink Sunday afternoon as upwards of 1,000 breast cancer survivors and supporters will take part in Baystate Health System’s 19th annual Rays of Hope - A Walk Toward the Cure of Breast Cancer.

The walk, which coincides with another event in Springfield earlier on Sunday morning, raised $1 million last year and a total of $10.25 million since 1994 for breast cancer awareness, research, support and treatment.

Unlike fundraisers run by national organizations, all of the money raised at this event stays local, said Phyllis Stone, coordinator of development and public relations for Baystate Franklin Medical Center. It will spread out among the Baystate hospitals.

“Everyone knows someone who has breast cancer,” she said. “If you’re donating, you’re donating to someone you know.”

Registration begins at 10 a.m. in front of the Northeast Sustainable Energy Association building at the Greenfield Energy Park on Miles Street.

A group photo of breast cancer survivors will take place at 11:30 a.m. This will be followed by some guest speakers, including Naomi Bolognani, BFMC manager of oncology, and Pam Noyes, a local breast cancer survivor.

Then, beginning at noon, participants will walk along either a two-mile or three-mile route. There will be water stops and entertainment along the way — including Greenfield High School’s Crush Squad cheerleaders and two Northfield Mount Hermon School a cappella groups.

It’s an emotionally charged day from start to finish, said Stone.

“There is a lot of laughter, a lot of tears,” she said. “There are survivors. ... There are people who have lost someone during the year. There are breast cancer patients who are there and maybe aren’t going to survive.”

A tent near the entrance to the Energy Park, named the “Pink Hope Lounge,” will provide a central spot for survivors throughout the day.

About 600 scarves, knitted by community members as well as supporters across the country, will be distributed to survivors at the Greenfield and Springfield sites, said Stone.


The private all-girls Stoneleigh-Burnham School has been preparing for the event for the past month.

About 75 students, roughly half of the student body, have registered to walk. Twenty girls will arrive early to construct the pink balloon arch that hangs every year at the entrance of Energy Park.

Earlier this week, 116 students participated in the school’s “Think Pink Day” — where the girls paid $1 to dress down in pink clothes and wear a pink ribbon. That money, along with sales of pink scarves and hats, will all go to the Rays of Hope.

Karen Suchenski, a humanities teacher and community service coordinator at the school, said that students have also learned breast cancer statistics and heard from survivors.

“It’s a particular important issue for the current students and alums of an all-girls school to take seriously,” said Suchenski.

“The emphasis has been on hopefulness,” she said. “(We’re) encouraging all of these girls to think about becoming scientists and working towards the cure in their future lives, but also taking action right now for other girls and women that they may know, including faculty members here.”

More information on the Rays of Hope event can be found at: www.baystatehealth.org/raysofhope/.

You can reach Chris Shores at:
or 413-772-0261, ext. 264

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