Wheeling for Healing breaks records this year

  • Cyclists take off from Greenfield Community College on Aug. 25 for the 50-mile route in the Wheeling for Healing bike ride fundraiser. The money raised and participation broke records this year. STAFF PHOTO/MAX MARCUS

  • Robert Perry, who died in June and was owner of Bicycles & Skis Unlimited, was honored at this year’s Baystate Franklin Medical Center Wheeling for Healing fundraiser. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

Staff Writer
Published: 9/9/2019 10:39:45 PM

GREENFIELD — This year’s Wheeling for Healing bike ride broke records in both fundraising and attendance, raising more than $72,000 to support oncology services at Baystate Franklin Medical Center.

Hospital spokeswoman Molly MacMunn said the event, which was held Aug. 25, was in honor of Robert Perry, who was an avid supporter of the yearly benefit and owner of Bicycles & Skis Unlimited. He died of cancer in June, shortly after it was announced that this year’s event would be in his honor.

She said the event was also record-breaking in how many people attended — more than 300 participants and volunteers gathered at Greenfield Community College for the event, choosing one of three distances and routes for cyclists that ranged from 10 to 50 miles. There was also a 5-kilometer route for runners and walkers.

“The support for Bob Perry was incredible,” MacMunn said. “He will be remembered for helping people conquer hills.”

Each year, Perry donated his time and expertise to design the routes, donate bikes as raffle prizes and encourage other cyclists to participate.

“This was something that was important to my brother, so we’re trying to carry on his legacy,” said Perry’s sister, Patty. “I tell people when they’re having a tough ride to just ‘visualize Bob’s hand on your back and you can do anything.’”

Patients battling cancer and being treated at the local hospital will feel his support as well, MacMunn said. All proceeds from the event will remain local to support oncology patients.

Past donations have been used to purchase state-of-the-art equipment, including infusion chairs and exam tables. They have also been used to support improvements for a better healing environment and fund programs that include art therapy and yoga for patients and survivors.

Bruce Mainville, a nuclear medicine technologist at Baystate Franklin, together with Dr. Howard Natenshon, spearheaded the first Wheeling for Healing event in 2008. Both longtime employees of the hospital said they wanted to find a way to provide additional support for patients undergoing cancer treatments.

“Everyone needs team support when coping with a diagnosis of cancer,” Mainville said. “Our oncology department is that team, and we can be a part of it, as well. We all know family members, friends and colleagues who have battled this disease; these are our friends, families and neighbors.”

Wheeling for Healing has raised more than $400,000 for cancer care and services since 2008. In addition to the ride, walk and run this year, there was a lunch, music and prizes.

Donations for Wheeling for Healing are still being accepted at: baystatehealth.org/wheelingforhealing.

Reach Anita Fritz at
413-772-0261, ext. 269 or


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