Keeping You, Me and Memories Alive

September 16th, 2002 by Adam

Community members who would like to honor loved ones who have died from cancer, or are currently battling the disease, are invited to join a 12-hour relay walk to raise funds for the fight against cancer.

Walkers will step off outside the Plymouth State College field house at noon on Saturday, September 21. The walk concludes with a midnight celebration.

Melissa Merrill of Ashland is the walk’s founder. Merrill’s mother died of cancer part-way through the teenager’s first year of college, and Merrill wanted to do something tangible to help fight the disease and honor the memories of those who have or are battling cancer.

Working with Sue Walsh of the College’s counseling center in the fall of 2000, Merrill reached out to peers, faculty and staff, and members of the local community, to develop what she hoped would become an annual event. The 2001 event raised more than $13,000, including $7,500 that was donated to First Star Tonight, and Merrill, now an alumna, continues her involvement in this special project.

Area businesses and individuals are solicited for sponsorships and for workers to support the teams of walkers throughout the event. Departments and organizations can organize teams of walkers, inter-organizational challenges, or form at team at the field. Solo walkers are also welcome. Walsh says, “The first year was primarily a student event; last year the emphasis shifted to the community. This year we hope to integrate both in a wonderful shared event.” Children and seniors are encouraged to participate.

At the walk, participants and supporters may also purchase luminaries, perforated bags with candles inside, that will light the way for the walkers and serve as memorials for victims or their families or symbols of hope for those ill with the disease. Markers will be available so that the luminaries, which cost $5 each, may be personalized.

Proceeds from sponsorships (sponsors names are printed on tee shirts) and the sale of luminaries will be donated to local charities and to a book award for a current PSC student whose life has been touched by cancer.

For information, to register as a walker, or to volunteer in any capacity, contact Laurie Reed, 535-2461, Tammy Poitras, 535-2254 or Sue Walsh at 535-1341 weekdays; or Melissa Merrill at 968-1341 evenings.