County Fare: Relay for Life makes strides in fight against cancer
This weekend's Relay for Life Berkshire County Central South resulted in a successful showing of support on the Monument Mountain Regional High School campus in Great Barrington.
During the 20-hour event, which began at 6 p.m. on Friday, a total of 36 registered teams comprising 375 participants walked the track and raised $104,082.69 to support research and programs of the American Cancer Society.
Relay for Life, a nationally staged cancer support, awareness and fundraising event, marks its 31st year nationally. This year's theme is "Paint Your World Purple," referring to the banner color of the society's cancer awareness campaigns.
Locally, this weekend's Relay had a festive luau theme, to brighten the atmosphere.
According to Stephanie Bosley, American Cancer Society community manager for the region, Relay for Life has been held in the Central/South Berkshire region for the past 21 years, and for 11 years in the Northern Berkshire region.
"We definitely have a lot of teams that have been with us since the beginning," she said.
She noted that because "cancer doesn't discriminate," there are always new teams being formed, due to people being newly diagnosed with and dying from complications with the disease.
Bosley said she first got involved with American Cancer Society as a volunteer, after being asked to sing the national anthem at one of the first Northern Berkshire Relays. Her grandmother is a breast cancer survivor, and she said she credits the American Cancer Society's research branch for saving her grandmother's life through early detection and the organization's research funding and treatment.
Bosley said that sometimes the American Cancer Society's Relay for Life program is criticized because while the event is held locally, the money goes into a national research and campaign fund.
"We largely do research," she said of the society, "but sometimes it gets overlooked that we're still doing things in the community."
Another free resource the society provides is a toll-free hotline which offers support, from helping with insurance and treatment questions to helping find rides to treatment appointments and other support groups. That number is 1-800-227-2345.
"I think it's a great resource a lot of people in the Berkshires don't know about, and it shows where the money is going," Bosley said.
While the Relay events are over for now, she said the Central/South Berkshire campaign will continue to raise funds online and through in-person donations through Aug. 31.
A newer event, "Making Strides Against Breast Cancer," is scheduled for 9 a.m. on Oct. 15, at The Common in downtown Pittsfield, and will be promoted with the Downtown Pittsfield Farmers Market. A kick-off campaign for that event will be held from 6 to 8 p.m. on Aug. 11, at Ayelada frozen yogurt shop, 505 East St., in Pittsfield. There, people can get information about the upcoming walk and also score some free frozen yogurt, for a cause.
For more information, contact Bosley at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Man's best friends "pawsed" recently to help local veterans. Fifteen dogs accompanied by 25 humans trekked three miles in the inaugural Shamrock Pack Walk for Veterans held on Sunday, June 12 in Pittsfield. Sponsored by Shamrock Dog Grooming/Blackjack's Boot Camp Dog Day Care, the pooches and people walked from the Lyman Street business to the Veterans Memorial off South Street and back. There, participants paid tribute to the late John Boucher, a local veteran who died recently. A remembrance wreath was presented to his widow, Nancy Boucher, according to Shamrock co-owners Tom and Paula Phillips. The two- and four-legged walkers returned to Lyman Street having raised $1,375 on behalf of American Legion Riders of Post 155 in Dalton. The Phillipses tell County Fare the money will be distributed to a veteran or veteran's family in need.
BCD student finds hope
For the third year in a row, one of Berkshire Country Day School's eighth-grade students has received special recognition in the national IWitness Video Challenge of the USC Shoah Foundation's Institute for Visual History and Education.
Lanna Knoll of Great Barrington, produced a video, "Hope and Happiness," that was chosen as a regional winner, and has advanced to the final round of national judging.
IWitness is an educational website developed that provides access to nearly 1,300 full-life histories, testimonies of survivors and witnesses to the Holocaust and other genocides for guided exploration.
The video challenge, "invites students from all over North America to be inspired by the voices in IWitness, to use their innovation to create positive value in their communities, and to submit short videos explaining the inspiration behind their extraordinary actions and impact."
For the past three years, BCD eighth-grade history teacher, Sarah Pitcher-Hoffman, has engaged her students by assigning IWitness projects, with winners produced each year.
Knoll volunteered at Gould Farm in Monterey, a local therapeutic community for those struggling with mental health problems, and brought ideas about finding hope and happiness back to friends and family. Her video is the only one from New England states among the finalists.
Last year, BCD's Sam Ferrone of Spencertown, N.Y., was a regional winner, and the year before, Ayva Schiff of Dalton and Ruby Merritt of Lenox were regional winners and received second-place in the finals.
View all the 2016 top videos at iwitness.usc.edu/SFI/iwitnesschallenge.
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