The term “Rays of Hope” probably means many different things to different people. For those of us residing in Western Massachusetts, however, Rays of Hope represents the largest charitable fundraising effort in our area. The signature event of the year-long effort to raise money for breast cancer awareness and research is the annual Walk Toward the Cure, held each October at two locations in Western Massachusetts. The energy and enthusiasm generated at this event is something to behold.
It started back in 1994 with just 500 walkers, and since then Rays of Hope has grown to over 20,000 enthusiastic walkers and runners all aiming for the same goal, to eliminate breast cancer in our lifetimes. Rays of Hope has now raised over $10 million since its humble beginnings with all of the funds remaining here in western Massachusetts. Attending this event is a life-changing experience. Go once, and you are hooked for life. People of all ages and from all walks of life come to celebrate those who have survived this dreaded disease and to also remember those who have not.
So what can you expect if you join the effort? You can expect to be inspired by the dozens of Breast Cancer survivors who show up to put their best foot forward every year. You can expect to join thousands of other participants as you make your way through beautiful Forest Park, the gem of Springfield, Massachusetts. You can expect to get some exercise as you choose between an 8K run, a 2-mile walk, or a 5-mile walk. You can expect to be entertained, as there are countless bands, singers and other performers positioned throughout the route. You can expect to be bathed in pink as you start the walk under a banner of thousands of pink balloons. And most certainly, you can expect to go home with the satisfaction of knowing that you have just participated in a truly inspiring event.
The Rays of Hope walk takes place on the second to last Sunday in October. You can join a team, walk as an individual, or start your own team. You can walk in memory of a loved one who has lost their battle with cancer. You can walk to honor a friend or family member who is a survivor of cancer. You can walk just for the sake of walking and contributing to a worthy cause. Whatever your reason, get out there and walk for the Rays of Hope.
On a personal note our team, Team Spunky Lid, walks in memory of a truly great woman, Linda Deorocki. She was my sister-in-law, my wife’s sister. She was a wife, mother, daughter, sister, aunt, friend, and just one of those people that would be on your top five favorite person list. She was also one of the most generous people you could ever hope to meet. She was diagnosed with Stage 4 breast cancer back in 2005, went through surgery and chemo treatments, and was cancer free, at least we thought, for the next year. In the summer of 2007 the cancer returned and despite a valiant effort she passed away on January 17th, 2008. We were very close to Linda and she is missed dearly. Many of us now look at The Rays of Hope walk as a sacred day for us to gather, remember, and honor Linda. No matter what the weather or what the conditions are on the day of the walk, we will be there.
- Baystate Health Foundation - Rays of Hope homepage - Baystate Health Foundation
Baystate Health Foundation Rays of Hope homepage
So please, no matter what the event is called in your part of the country get out there and support your local breast cancer foundation. Start a team. Raise funds or contribute. Get involved. Make it a fun event. There is nothing like the feeling of knowing that you are making a difference and contributing to a worthy cause.
© 2012 Bill De Giulio
Theresa DeGiulio on March 11, 2012:
We love having every one for breakfast and then walking for a cure!!
Bill De Giulio (author) from Massachusetts on March 11, 2012:
Thank you Mich2121roy. It is a wonderful event and we look forward to it with great anticipation every year.
Mich2121roy on March 11, 2012:
I love this article! This walk is an event that I look forward to every year.