|By Michelle Symington|
AGAWAM On Oct. 30, the Agawam Junior Women's Club (AJWC) will join thousands of walkers as they participate in the Rays of Hope Walk at Forest Park in Springfield, which is known as "A Walk Toward the Cure of Breast Cancer."
This is the second year that the club will be walking as a team and is seeking support from the community. The AJWC is asking members of the community to join their team or to pledge a donation to support the cause through their club.
Rosalie Dialessi, member of the AJWC and Ray of Hope Walkathon chairperson for the club, said this is the third year she has participated in the walk although it is the second year for the club.
"We have a mutual friend from the Wilbraham Junior Women's Club who fought the battle and did not win," she said.
She said she began to walk in honor of that friend, Sharon Lopato, who was "only 42 when she died."
Three years ago, Dialessi walked with the Wilbraham Junior Women's Club, which she said has a very large team.
"We are still working on our members and outside people to join us," she said. "I think it is a very good cause."
Dialessi said that she was overwhelmed by the number of participants when she first joined the walk.
"There are thousands," she said. "It is like a field of pink."
Last year, the AJWC raised $700. This year, the club has a goal of $1,000.
Dialessi said she herself has already raised $100 for the walk.
She said that she would encourage people to participate in the walk because everyone knows someone with cancer, whether it be breast cancer or another form of cancer.
She said that her father died of Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma and her mother is a survivor of that same disease.
"If you talk to anyone, someone in the family has a relation or a friend who has been effected by th disease itself," she said.
Last year, the AJWC had a team of 10 participate in the walk. This year, Dialessi ordered 20 t-shirts for the walk and believes she may need to order more.
Thirteen walkers have signed up to walk with the club and Dialessi anticipates that there will be at least 20 or more walkers on the AJWC team this year.
"Anyone who would like to walk with us is welcome," she said. Anyone interested in joining the AJWC in the walk should contact Dialessi at 786-2616.
Anyone interested in sending a donation to the AJWC to support them in the walk can do so by mailing it to The GFWC Agawam Junior Women's Club, Ray of Hope Walkathon, P.O. Box 332. Agawam, MA 01001. Donations can also be made online through the AJWC team by visiting www.raysofhope.kintera.org and clicking on the AJWC team link.
The Rays of Hope walk was founded in 1994.
According to the walk's website (www.baystatehealth.com /raysofhope) the walk began with 500 participants and has grown "into the largest single day fund-raising event in western Massachusetts, with over 7,000 participants in one location in 2004."
The walk raised $655,000 last year, which benefitted the Comprehensive Breast Center at the Baystate Regional Cancer Program. It also supported various community support projects throughout the region.
For more information about the walk, visit www.baystatehealth.com./raysofhope.