SPRINGFIELD — This year’s 21st annual Rays of Hope – A Walk Toward the Cure of Breast Cancer may still be two months away on Oct. 19, but walker Phyllis Dupre is already out there pounding the pavement for her team.
“I have some very generous sponsors and normally begin to call on them again in August for their continued financial support,” said Dupre, a nine-year breast-cancer survivor from Springfield. Dupre’s team, Bosom Buddies – Fight Like a Girl, has grown to some 40 members over the years and continues to expand through word of mouth, said the team captain.
“Breast cancer isn’t something that happens only during Breast Cancer Awareness Month in October,” said Michelle Shattuck, Rays of Hope event chair. “It strikes women and men 365 days a year. So, whether forming your own team, joining another, or just walking on your own, it’s never too early to begin recruiting team members or soliciting sponsors as part of your fund-raising effort for the walk and run.”
Participants can register now for both the walk and run online at baystatehealth.org/raysofhope, where they can also create their own personal webpage to assist them in their fund-raising efforts. Since its inception in Springfield in 1994 by Lucy Giuggio Carvalho, Rays of Hope has grown from 500 participants raising $50,000 to some 24,000 walkers and runners in an expanded event that includes a second walk in Greenfield, as well as this year’s 5th annual Run Toward the Cure 8K in Springfield.
This year’s annual events are presented by Health New England. As in past years, the Springfield walk (a two- or five-mile route) and run, with some 600 teams, begin at Temple Beth El on Dickinson Street where registration is set for 9 a.m. The walk in Greenfield (either a two- or three-mile route) begins at Energy Park on Miles Street with registration at 10 a.m. In Springfield, the run begins at 10:15 a.m. followed by walkers at 10:30 a.m. Greenfield’s walk steps off at noon. The 5th Annual Run Toward the Cure 8K continues this year with the help of Fast Feet in West Springfield and Westfield. While considered a ‘fun run,’ there will be a time clock at the finish line for runners who want to record what may be their personal best.
Since 1994, Rays of Hope has raised more than $11.8 million, with all monies remaining local and administered by the Baystate Health Foundation to assist patients and their families affected by breast cancer. Over the years, funds have supported the Rays of Hope Center for Breast Cancer Research, as well as treatment, breast-health outreach and education, and the purchase of state-of-the-art equipment through the Baystate Health Breast Network, including Baystate Medical Center in Springfield, Baystate Franklin Medical Center in Greenfield, Baystate Mary Lane Hospital in Ware, and various community projects throughout Western Mass.
Those who want to support the Rays of Hope, but are unable to walk due to other commitments, can participate in the 10,000 Steps Toward a Cure program. Participants receive a pedometer to keep track of their steps throughout the month of October, while raising donations similar to other walkers.
This year’s Rays of Hope major sponsors are Health New England, Gale Toyota, Baystate Breast & Wellness Center, Baystate Breast Specialists, Chicopee Savings Charitable Foundation, Kinsley Power Systems, Radiology & Imaging, and Zasco Productions. A listing of all sponsors can be found on the Rays of Hope website. For more information about this year’s Rays of Hope Walk and 8K Run, held rain or shine, call (413) 794-8001 or visit baystatehealth.org/raysofhope.