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11th Annual Walk of Champions to be held Sunday, May 1

February 22, 2016
Walk of Champions

On Sunday, May 1, once again among the tall trees of the Quabbin Reservoir, the community is invited to come together to mark the 11th annual Walk of Champions to benefit the Baystate Regional Cancer Program at Baystate Mary Lane Hospital in Ware.

The Walk of Champions, founded by Ladies Field Hockey Coach, John O’Neill, of Quaboag Regional Middle High School in 2006, began as a tribute to the compassionate care and comfort his mother received during her struggle with cancer. Since then, the Walk of Champions has grown into a collection of teams and individuals each walking for their own reason. There are friends and family members celebrating victory over cancer. Others are encouraging their loved ones in their personal fight over cancer, while others walk in memory of those who have lost their battle with cancer.

“We’re committed to providing exceptional, high-level cancer-care services close to home for our community,” said Dr. Chandravathi Loke, Hematologist/Oncologist.

Dr. Loke joins Dr. Jonathan Marsh, Hematologist/Oncologist and Dr. Richard Steingart, Hematologist, all of the Baystate Regional Cancer Program's Eastern Region to offer cancer treatment specifically tailored to meet each patient’s individual needs. They and the cancer-care team at Baystate Medical Center's Mary Lane Satellite Unit are sensitive to the unique challenges that each patient and family may face during their cancer journey. Together they provide both clinical expertise and exceptional personal support so patients can be surrounded by the familiar comforts of their community and the support of their family and friends.

As part of the Baystate Regional Cancer Program, Baystate Mary Lane provides the majority of outpatient cancer services in the Baystate Health Eastern Region, including Ware, Palmer and surrounding communities.

“The Walk of Champions has become a time for our communities to join together in a moving tribute of those touched by cancer,” said Michelle Boivin, one of the oncology-certified nurses providing care in Ware. She and her colleagues join Dr. Loke, Dr. Marsh and Dr. Steingart, who not only provide care, but also teach the practice of cancer care, and do cancer research, as part of the Baystate Regional Cancer Program.

Since its inception, the Walk of Champions has raised over $662,000 to assist, support, and instill hope to those facing cancer. All funds raised remain local to support those cared for in the Baystate Health Eastern Region at Baystate Medical Center's Mary Lane Satellite Unit and for things such as family support counseling, educational outreach, pastoral care, medications, state-of-the-art equipment, and the Healing Garden located in the courtyard of the hospital. Overlooking the Healing Garden is the oncology suite, which provides convenient access to comprehensive cancer care, clinical trials and a multidisciplinary team approach to cancer care.

Now is the time to join the Walk of Champions presenting sponsor, Country Bank, and our community members supporting cancer care by forming a team and becoming involved in the 2016 Walk of Champions. The route offers a 1 mile loop that allows walkers to choose the number of miles they complete among the comfortable walking terrain of the Goodnough Dike. Along the way, walkers will enjoy entertainment and refreshments, along with the peace and beauty of the Quabbin Reservoir.

Pledge forms, fundraising resources, giving opportunities and more are now available online for businesses, community organizations, and individuals who wish to participate. More information can be found online. For additional information about the Walk of Champions, contact Michelle Graci, Manager of Fundraising Events for the Baystate Health Foundation, at (413) 794-7654 or by e-mail at