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The Walk – Holliston, October 15, 2017

by Pam Kyrka
October 17, 2017

The atmosphere – festive. The cause – serious. The event – the annual Holliston Breast Cancer Walk. So many volunteers worked to make this walk, in its 15th year, possible.

See the walkers leave the Green in the short video above.

Walkers were greeted in Town Hall by Patty Osten, left, and Angie Snow who then sent them up stairs to register.

The Walk, begun in 2003 by Kathy Chisholm, Jayne Jones, Denise Cronin, and Maryellen Miller, who died in 2008 and whose memory the walk honors, has grown over the years. Other organizers – Dawn Waddell, Katie Connors, Maryanne Marcoux, and Pam Poor – joined the original group soon after its inception.

Dawn Waddell, above, celebrating her birthday at the Walk, remarked that the Walk was the best way to celebrate. She stated that it is “a blessing to see how the community comes together.”

Katie Connors, also an early member, ran the silent auction and raffle this year, two fund- raising activities that usually bring in around $4,000. She said that they are so grateful to the donors – local restaurants, family and friends, and area businesses. Items donated include everything from football to organic vegetables to fine wines.
Katie’s sister and mother are breast cancer survivors with her mother finishing treatment a year ago. Katie added that she is so impressed with the spirit of those who come to walk, many of whom come every year.

Sue Rockett, a fourth year volunteer, said that she takes part for her mother-in-law and several aunts and cousins. She said that 100% of the  goods – the food, the raffle donations, the gift baskets, and even the water are donated so that all the money raised goes to Dana Farber.

Kathy Chisholm, above left with Denise Cronin, said that, not including the money from the 2017 walk, this event has so far donated $640,000 to Dana Farber, allowing for research and patient care. Maryellen was able to take a drug that Dr. Gary Bunnell at Dana Farber was researching.

And who are these walkers who give up a Sunday afternoon and spend time raising money to support the Walk?

A number of high school teams, including volleyball and field hockey, walked as a group. Katie Randlett and Olivia Briggs from the volleyball team said they walk to honor team members and parents of team members.

Team Cronin, another enthusiastic group, walk to support family and friends. I apologize to those high school teams and groups I missed, but I was very impressed by how many students took part.

Lillian Saran, a rugby player from Salve Regina College, above, said that the rugby team was walking because Hannah Freudenberger, a rugby player and life-long Holliston resident, has made the Walk a part of her life. They all came to support her and the Walk.

Arthur Abelson came down from Kennebunk, Maine, walking in memory of Maryellen, his wife’s good friend. He said they come down every year for the event.

Kay Bernegger, a former high school teacher, was walking for “so many people”, including Kirsten Willwerth McNamara, just diagnosed.

Finally, I spoke with Maryellen’s parents, Rita and David Marcoux. They come to Holliston from Rhode Island every year to see their grandchildren and to be part of the walk for their daughter. Maryellen’s cousin, Stephanie Gelbwachs, was with them as well and has been walking for 14 years.

If you drove through Holliston around 1:00pm this past Sunday, you may have been surprised and impressed by the number of pink shirts covering the church green. What began 15 years ago as a small event is now capable of raising a lot of money to fund cancer research and drug treatments, saving lives through a spirit of generosity and commitment. Truly amazing people doing important work in a very special town.



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