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Wheeling for Healing Bike Ride to Raise Funds for Cancer Services

GREENFIELD — Registration is now open for Baystate Franklin Medical Center’s seventh annual Wheeling for Healing bike ride benefit on Sunday, Aug. 24, starting and ending at the White Eagle Polish Picnic Ground, 249 Plain Road, in Greenfield. Proceeds will raise funds for BFMC’s cancer programs and services.

The $40 registration fee ($20 for children 12 and under) includes the ride, exhibits, a barbeque lunch, and live music by the Renegades following the ride. Individuals who don’t wish to ride but would like to join the fun can attend the barbeque only ($25). Health New England is the presenting sponsor for the event.

Last year, proceeds from Wheeling for Healing were used to purchase new infusion chairs for patients undergoing chemotherapy at Baystate Franklin. “Patients often spend a whole day with us — sometimes several days in a row — and many are coping with significant discomfort. Making sure that they have comfortable seating is critical,” said Naomi Bolognani, manager of BFMC’s Oncology Department. “Our patients know, first-hand, what would help increase their comfort while in our unit, so we invited them to share their opinions on the chairs’ features, including the color of the upholstery.”

Bolognani further explained that the department was able to offer financial assistance to patients, covering some expenses — such as wigs and some medications — that were not covered by the patients’ health insurance. The department also used Wheeling for Healing funds to purchase a new waiting-room TV with a special CARE channel, so patients can enjoy calming views of scenes from nature, accompanied by soft, soothing music.

Chairing this year’s Wheeling for Healing steering committee for the second year is Susan Eckstrom, who joined the committee in 2012. “I am honored to be serving as the chair of a very devoted and hard-working steering committee. We all need a team helping us cope with a diagnosis of cancer,” she said.

Added Kelli Barry, philanthropy officer at Baystate Franklin and a member of the Wheeling for Healing committee, “we are encouraging participants to collect pledges to help raise additional funds for cancer programs and services at Baystate Franklin. Virtually no one today is untouched by cancer. We all know family members, friends, or colleagues who have battled this disease, and this is a chance to raise funds to honor or remember someone special to you. Better yet, consider putting a team together to raise more donations for someone who is special to all of you.”

Participants can go online, design their own web pages, complete with photographs, and send out e-mails to solicit additional pledges. Anyone who raises $100 or more in pledges will receive a commemorative sports (wicking) T-shirt. “It can be fun and very rewarding, knowing that every pledge you receive supports Baystate Franklin’s Oncology Department,” Eckstrom said.

The event features four different courses for participants — a family-friendly, three-mile flat ride; a 10-mile route featuring the Greenfield bike trail; a moderate, 25-mile ride through Bernardston, Gill, and the Turners Falls and Greenfield bike trails; and a challenging, 50-mile route that goes up into the hills of Warwick and Wendell. This event is not a race, and participants are encouraged to sign up for a course that matches their level of ability.

For more information or to register for or sponsor Wheeling for Healing, visit baystatehealth.org/wheelingforhealing, or call the Baystate Health Foundation at (413) 794-4288.

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