Houlton Region

Bridge to Hope cancer walk changes gears due to COVID-19

HOULTON, Maine — It has been a difficult year for groups trying to raise money for good causes, but the one thing that has not changed is the importance to support those in need.

That is why organizers from the Bridge to Hope cancer support group feel it is important to hold their annual fundraising event, albeit in a much different fashion this year.

“COVID-19 has brought many things to either a complete halt or at least a drastic slow down,” explained Dee Butler Henderson, a member of the Bridge to Hope group. “One thing that COVID-19 has not stopped is cancer.”

This year would have marked the 15th annual Cancer Awareness Walk in the Shiretown. The event typically draws a large group, which is great for raising funds, but not so good for a time when crowd sizes have to be monitored to meet state health guidelines.

Last year’s event drew 225 walkers to the Gentle Memorial Building and helped raise $12,306 for the Bridge to Hope group. Organizers knew there was no way to accommodate an event of that magnitude this year because of the COVID-19 restrictions, so instead the group has decided to get more mobile.

Instead of a walk, the group will hold a “Cruisin’ for Cancer” ride on Saturday, Oct. 17. Registration begins at 9 a.m. with the ride following at 10 a.m. The ride begins at Harbison Plumbing and Heating, located at 98 Bangor St. Participants are encouraged to decorate their vehicles.

To date, the group has raised more than $150,000. Donations will be accepted and those wishing to obtain sponsor sheets can contact Kim Folsom at info@hphac.com or call 207-532-2600.

The mission of Bridge to Hope is to help people in southern Aroostook County with financial burdens as they battle cancer. The organization has helped hundreds of families over the past 15 years, with such kind gestures as gasoline gift cards or hotel accommodations

By keeping funds local, the group has been able to help individuals undergoing cancer treatments with various expenses as well as providing them meal gift cards, gift baskets and even donations of turkeys during Thanksgiving and Christmas.

The group also has helped families with travel expenses for patients undergoing cancer treatments, as well as for those who have appointments in central and southern Maine or even Boston. They have also been known to surprise some families with flower arrangements.

If funds are available, the group also offers a small scholarship to any student who lives in southern Aroostook County who has been affected by cancer in one way or another. Bridge to Hope also supports Sarah’s House in Brewer, which provides temporary lodging and support to those receiving treatment at the Eastern Maine Medical Center Cancer Care facility.

“We will not be able to have an actual program with door prizes or a quilt raffle, but our Facebook page will be updated after the ride with the totals raised,” Butler Henderson said. “Are we excited for our 15th annual event? You bet we are. Are we sad it has to be different? You bet we are. However there is so much need in our community that we could not not have the ‘walk’ this year.”

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