Western Mass Runners Hall of Fame Induction

March 8: The Western Mass Runners Hall of Fame (WMRHoF) board of directors announced the inductees of the third class. Since its inception, the WMRHoF has celebrated outstanding contributors to the running community, with its first class inducted in 2020 and the second in 2022. The third class inductees are Ric Bourie, Mary Cobb, Howard Drew, Sue Haryasz, Rich Larsen, Nicole McGilpin, Bob Neil, Bill Romito, Ed Sandifer, and John Stifler. In addition to these distinguished individuals, the charity organization Griffin’s Friends, which has supported children with cancer and their families for decades in the Springfield area by running and raising funds, will be inducted. Also, Neal Lamberton, a runner who has volunteered his time to the running community for years, will receive the Brian Goddu Volunteer of the Year Award, founded in memory of Goddu, a founding board member of the Western Mass Runners Hall of Fame. The induction ceremony will take place at 6 p.m. at the Holyoke Elks Lodge. The guest speaker will be Bob Hodge, third-place finisher in the 1979 Boston Marathon, multiple Mount Washington Road Race champion, 40-year course record holder on the DH Jones/Amherst 10 Mile Course, and author of Tale of the Times. Tickets for the dinner and ceremony are priced at $20 and are available for purchase at For those unable to attend but wishing to support the WMRHoF mission, donations are welcome via the RunReg website.


Second Chance Dinner Auction

March 23: Tickets for the 25th annual Second Chance Dinner Auction are now available for purchase. This significant fundraising event marks the kickoff of Second Chance Animal Services’ year-long 25th-anniversary celebration, promising an evening of philanthropy and joy to benefit homeless shelter pets in need of veterinary care. The event will take place at the La Salle Reception Center in Southbridge. The evening will commence with a cocktail hour at 4 p.m., giving attendees the opportunity to peruse and bid on myriad silent-auction items and try their luck with raffle prizes. The main event unfolds with dinner at 6 p.m., followed by the highlight of the night, the auction. Tickets are $55 per person with the option to reserve a table of nine for $495. The success of the event relies on the generosity of sponsors and item donors. Second Chance encourages businesses and individuals to consider lending their support by becoming a sponsor or contributing items. As noted, the event features both a silent and live auction featuring hundreds of items ranging from gift certificates for local businesses and restaurants to gift baskets and everything in between. To enhance the auction experience, a selection of gift cards and small, easy-to-ship items will be available for advance online bidding March 14-21. For those interested in sponsoring, donating items, or attending the event, complete information and tickets can be found at


Women’s Leadership Conference

April 4: Bay Path University announced that real-estate legend, investor, best-selling author, entrepreneur, producer, and Shark Tank shark Barbara Corcoran will be the keynote speaker at the 27th Women’s Leadership Conference (WLC), taking place at the MassMutual Center in downtown Springfield. Corcoran has been an investor/shark on ABC’s four-time Emmy award-winning show Shark Tank for 10 seasons, investing in more than 80 businesses to date. She chronicled her rise from waiting tables in a New York diner to heading a $5 billion real-estate company in her bestselling book, Shark Tales: How I Turned $1,000 into a Billion Dollar Business! She’ll bring her personal brand of no-nonsense wisdom and supportive advice to the more than 1,600 attendees who are expected to attend this year’s WLC. The WLC will also feature lunchtime speaker Amy Purdy, a three-time Paralympic medalist in snowboarding for Team USA. Throughout her life, Purdy has taken on obstacles and broken through, making her way into the upper echelons of athletics, onto the dance floor of Dancing with the Stars, and onto the New York Times bestseller list as the author of On My Own Two Feet: From Losing My Legs to Learning the Dance of Life. She co-founded Adaptive Action Sports for athletes with disabilities and is the host of the critically acclaimed podcast Bouncing Forward! Her work has led her to be labeled a “hero” by Oprah Winfrey and has made her one of the most in-demand motivational and corporate speakers on the globe. This year’s conference will also feature breakout sessions led by business experts and authors, including Yvonne Camus, the former COO of SPINCO, Canada’s largest indoor cycling brand and the only female to outperform the Navy Seals in the multi-terrain adventure race known as Eco-Challenge. In addition, the WLC will welcome Sylvia Baffour, an author, podcast host, and emotional-intelligence coach recently ranked by HubSpot among the top 15 female motivational speakers. Additional keynote and breakout session speakers will be announced soon. For further information on the 2024 conference, sponsorship information, and ticket sales, visit


Difference Makers 

April 10: The 16th annual Difference Makers Gala will be held at the Log Cabin in Holyoke. Since 2009, BusinessWest has been recognizing the work of individuals, groups, businesses, and institutions through this recognition program. The 2024 Difference Makers — profiled in this issue of BusinessWest and at — are Matt Bannister, senior vice president, Marketing and Corporate Responsibility, PeoplesBank; Delcie Bean, CEO, Paragus Strategic I.T.; Linda Dunlavy, executive director, Franklin Regional Council of Governments; Dr. Fred and Mary Kay Kadushin, co-founders, Feed the Kids; Scott Keiter, CEO, Keiter; the staff of Rock 102; Shannon Rudder, president and CEO, Martin Luther King Jr. Family Services; and Springfield Symphony Orchestra and Springfield Chamber Players. Tickets cost $95 each, with reserved tables of 10-12 available and available now through March 29. Sponsors for the 2024 Difference Makers include Burkhart, Pizzanelli, P.C., Keiter, Mercy Medical Center/Trinity Health, the Royal Law Firm, and TommyCar Auto Group. For more event details and to reserve tickets, visit



June 21-23: Registration is now open for Hooplandia, the second annual 3×3 basketball tournament and festival, at The three-day event includes levels of play for all ages and divisions. Hooplandia launched in 2023. Taking place in the heart of Greater Springfield, the birthplace of basketball, the event is hosted by Eastern States Exposition (ESE) in West Springfield and the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield. Most games will be played on the ESE grounds, with special games held at the Hall of Fame. Seventy-five basketball courts will be set up to accommodate more than 650 games played by approximately 2,100 participants of all ages. Divisions of play have been created to provide an all-inclusive environment for players of all ages and playing abilities. The diverse divisions include young girls, boys, women, men, high-school-level, college-level, OGs, veterans, and more. Players are invited to build teams of four, create their own unique team name and uniforms, and register at Team fees range according to age, and children in the under-8 category are free of charge. Hooplandia will once again partner with Boys and Girls Clubs throughout the region as its designated philanthropic partner, providing $10 from every paid team registration to support the mission and programs of the clubs. Sponsorship opportunities are available. For inquiries, email [email protected].