Registration is open for the ninth annual Wheeling for Healing bike/walk/run benefit on Sunday, August 21, starting and ending at Greenfield Community College, 1 College Drive, Greenfield. Health New England is the presenting sponsor for the event. The registration fee is $40 for cyclists, $30 for walkers/runners, and free for children age 12 and under. It includes morning snacks and a picnic lunch, catered by Greenfield Community College.
Wheeling for Healing features three different rides – a local 10-mile route through the Greenfield meadows; 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 asked to sign up for a course that matches their level of ability.
The walk/run course includes the Greenfield Community College campus, as well as neighboring streets – all within safe, low-traffic areas. Small children can safely ride their bikes while their parents walk or run alongside them. For those coming with young children, there will also be children’s bike safety activities.
When you hit the pavement at this year’s event, you will join hundreds in helping to ensure that Baystate Franklin Medical Center will continue to provide the best in cancer care in our community. Marsha Bittner, Greenfield, realized first-hand the importance of keeping care local while her late husband underwent treatment for his cancer diagnosis. “I truly believe that it is so important to make it possible for our local hospitals to have oncology available to cancer patients,” Bittner commented. “It makes it easier if you know that a long trip north, south, east or west does not have to happen every time treatment is needed.”
Proceeds from previous Wheeling for Healing events have been used to purchase medical equipment and comfort items for patients undergoing chemotherapy at Baystate Franklin; and have also gone to assist patients with extraordinary expenses associated with their illness, including medicines not covered by their insurance.
Last year, nearly 200 participants helped Wheeling for Healing raise over $40,000 with funds supporting the purchase of new exam tables for BFMC’s Oncology department. The new tables are controlled by an electronic foot pedal, allowing them to be lowered so patients can get on them more easily. They are also softer and wider for patients’ comfort.
“Patients often spend a whole day with us – sometimes several days in a row – and many are coping with significant discomfort, said Naomi Bolognani, RN, BSN, OCN, manager of BFMC’s Oncology Department. “Making sure our patients are as comfortable as possible is essential,” she noted. “The new infusion chairs and exam tables have been a godsend. And the Patient Needs Fund goes a long way toward easing the many financial stresses that come with dealing with a cancer diagnosis.”
Bruce Mainville, a nuclear medicine technologist at Baystate Franklin, together with Howard Natenshon, MD, BFMC radiologist, spearheaded the first Wheeling for Healing event in 2008. Mainville is a strong believer in supporting his local hospital through fund-raising events such as this one. “Everyone needs team support when coping with a diagnosis of cancer,” Mainville said. “Our Oncology Department is that team; let’s support them so they can help our families, friends and colleagues throughout their cancer journeys.”
Mainville added, “We encourage participants to collect pledges and 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, and colleagues who have battled this disease, and this is a chance to raise funds to honor or remember someone special. And it’s rewarding to know that every pledge collected goes to support our local Oncology Department, serving people right here in our community.”
Those who have a group of enthusiastic cyclists in their workplace, or who are part of a cycling club or a family of cyclists, are invited to form teams and raise donations together. Teams may be comprised of walkers, runners and cyclists. They may write their team names on sports “bibs” that will be available at the event.
Participants can go on line, baystatehealth.org/wheelingforhealing, to design their own web pages, add photographs and personal messages about why they are committed to this cause, and send emails to solicit pledges. Anyone who raises $100 or more in pledges will receive a commemorative sports T-shirt.
For more information or to register for or sponsor Wheeling for Healing, visit baystatehealth.org/wheelingforhealing, or call Baystate Health Foundation at 413-794-4288.