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Residents participate in Jimmy Fund Walk

Date: 9/5/2012

By Carley Dangona

SOUTHWICK — Residents will partake in the annual Boston Marathon Jimmy Fund Walk (JFW) on Sept. 9 to raise funds for research at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute.

Donna Rollins of Southwick will participate along with her husband Michael and daughter Arielle for their second consecutive year.

"Every step on my training walk, I say the names of those I walk in honor of," Rollins said. "Not everybody can be a doctor — this is something we can do."

Rollins explained how the money from the JFW assists Dana-Farber.

"The funds are earmarked, Dr. Benz [president and CEO of Dana-Farber] decides where the money goes," she said. "Traditional research is covered by the National Institutes of Health and its National Cancer Institute, but cutting-edge research is not — this [JFW] money is critical. If a patient is not responding to traditional treatment, or has a rare diagnosis, cutting-edge treatments can lengthen lifespan, improve quality of life or cure that cancer. What they find for one may help another."

Rollins's daughter Arielle, development assistant with the Principal and Major Gifts Department at Dana-Farber, explained what the walk means to her personally. "For me, it's about showing support for and solidarity with the patients we raise funds for," she said. "It's a good way to remember those who've been lost and those who are surviving and going through treatment currently."

Arielle explained the camaraderie of the participants. "The atmosphere is not competitive, but collective," she said. "It's nice to see all the teams — their shirts and the people they represent."

Another participant in the JFW is Carol Pietroniro of Feeding Hills.

"I just do this one walk, in memory of my son Michael," she said. "We just had the fifth anniversary of his passing. My fundraising goal is $898, the number of days he spent in ICU. He went into the hospital at 18 and died at 21."

She continued, "My son never gave up — he never gave up in the two and a half years [he was there]. He motivates me to keep going. My biggest thing no parent should have to hold their child and watch them take their last breath. The money [raised by the JFW] might buy some parent [staying alongside their ailing child in a hospital] a dinner, or fulfill a wish of a child [afflicted with cancer]."

Denise Ward of Agawam will be participating in the JFW for her first time.

"I'm looking forward to it," she said. "I think the Jimmy Fund is a really good cause. I don't know anyone who has not been affected by cancer."

Ward continued, "Seeing the whole crowd of us working together, hearing and sharing our stories that is motivation enough for me."

The Jimmy Fund was founded in 1948 and this year marks the 24th Annual JFW. Walkers are required to raise a minimum of $300 and can choose from four physical routes, or sign up as a virtual walker online.

To support the walkers by donation or to register for the walk, visit To learn more about the Jimmy Fund, go to For more information about Dana-Farber, visit

Michael Rollins of Southwick was unavailable for interview in time for publication. Donna Ferraiolo of Feeding Hills was unavailable for comment.