HOULTON, Maine — More than 200 walkers braved the elements Saturday morning to participate in the 10th annual Bridge to Hope Cancer Walk. This weekend’s walk marked the first time in the 10-year history of the event that snow fell during the fund-raiser.
“Cancer doesn’t stop just because it rains or snows,” said Marie Carmichael, one of the organizers. “We walk every year, no matter what the weather is.”
Saturday’s walk collected $7,200 to help families in southern Aroostook County who are dealing with cancer. A memory wall was added for people to post a photo of a loved one who died from cancer. Individuals also put names of loved ones on balloons that were released prior to the start of the walk.
In October of 2005, Cathy Kennedy organized the first “Bridge To Hope Breast Cancer Awareness Walk” through downtown Houlton. That year there were approximately 50 participants who raised more than $800, which was donated to the American Cancer Society.
In 2006 she was joined by Kim Folsom, Dee Henderson and Carmichael. Each year since then, participation has grown and the benefits to the local area have been amazing.
Bridge to Hope helps families by providing monetary gifts, gas cards or hotel stays to families who have a loved one receiving cancer treatments. The group also donates a portion of its funds to the Maine Cancer Foundation and the American Cancer Society and provides a scholarship for a local high school student.
Carol Wallace received the individual award for most money raised, while “Toni’s Tatas” led by Toni Hetherington received the group award for most money collected.
The walk originally was to commemorate Breast Cancer Awareness Month, but since evolved to help individuals with all types of cancer. It has raised closed to $90,000 over the past 10 years, with 90 percent of that money helping local people.
“It’s all about local people helping local people,” Folsom said. “We gather names from the community on who is battling cancer. We try to help out however we can.”