Posted: Friday, May 6, 2016 6:00 am
Thousands of community members will walk a mile tonight in support of Grant County Cancer Services.
The annual Walk of Hope, which began in 2000, is a major fundraising event for the organization, Director Jennifer Lane-Riefler said.
“When we started the walk in 2000, we helped 24 families a year,” she said. “Now we serve over 500 families a year.”
Walkers can participate individually or in teams. Awards are given to the largest team and to the team with the most spirit.
“To see that many people (walking) who have been touched by cancer is a very emotional experience,” Lane-Riefler said.
But she said she is particularly excited about debuting the Angel Walkers. The suggestion came in 2015 from a family helped by Cancer Services. People can sign up a loved one who battled cancer as an Angel Walker. The names of Angel Walkers will be written on balloons, which will be released at the end of the walk.
“It has gone over well,” Lane-Riefler said.
She started the Jennifer’s Angel Walkers Team to honor those people who have touched her life over the years. As of Wednesday, she said 300 Angel Walkers had been registered.
Roughly 3,800 walkers had registered for the event by Wednesday, and Lane-Riefler said that’s the most they’ve ever had. She hopes to reach 4,000 walkers by the time the walk starts at 7 p.m.
Cancer Services uses the money raised by the Walk of Hope to cover clients’ needs and services. Lane-Riefler said those needs range from transportation to out-of-town appointments to diapers for children battling cancer. The organization also offers home health equipment, mammograms and hair pieces as well as help with medication.
“Everybody’s journey is different,” she said. “We hope to raise as much (money) as we can.”
The Walk of Hope’s corporate sponsor, Riverside Federal Credit Union, donates to Cancer Services throughout the year. Lane-Riefler said the balcony on Riverside’s Washington Street building was designed with the walk in mind.
“We are very fortunate they’ve chosen (to partner with us),” she said.
Cancer Services of Grant County was founded in 1959 by the community to assist families battling cancer. Lane-Riefler, who has been with the organization since 1999, said Cancer Services receives no state or federal funding.
“This agency was established because of local need by local people,” she said.
Community members who wish to participate in this evening’s mile-long walk can register at the Cancer Services office, located at 305 S. Norton, until 3:30 p.m. After 4 p.m., people can register at the walk, which will start at the corner of Washington Street and Spencer Avenue. The cost is $8 per person.