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Spotlight: Walk for Hope

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Submitted Photo Walk for Hope takes place this year at Cielo Grande. It's the 10th anniversary of the fundraiser, helping victims of cancer.

Tenth annual cancer awareness and fundraising walk

By Christina Stock

Vision Editor

Humanity can see how our galaxy works and achieved tremendous advances in science, however, one achievement is still missing. The fight to eradicate the deadly mutation of cells — that disease commonly known as cancer — is still not won.

This year marks the 10th anniversary of Walk for Hope, a fundraiser to help cancer patients with their financial burden so they can concentrate on getting well. The walk will be held at Cielo Grande Recreation Area, 2303 W. College Blvd., May 10 from 6 to 11 p.m. Interested supporters can still sign up, until the day of the event, starting at 10 a.m., when the registration table is manned.

Two of the hands-on organizers are Wanda Porter — who is also the treasurer for Walk for Hope — and Brittnye Lamb.

“Basically, it was a vision of several women and men,” Porter said. “There were probably six or seven people that were brainstorming.”

“The Chaves County Cancer Fund (CCCF) has been around since 2006 and this walk started as a way to raise funds for the CCCF. Those people sat around brainstorming how to come up with more money. The Relay for Life from the American Cancer Society had been in town once a year and the community was involved. A lot of people were saying it was hard to get funds from them. Funds raised here were sent to Albuquerque and then disbursed as they see fit nationally, which is fine, but they wanted something that would stay here and would help the CCCF,” Lamb said.

Porter explained that national organizations have to consider paid employees, next to the money given to research. She has been with the group since 2010, not a full member, but helping every year.

“I was asked if I was willing to chair it,” Porter said, “so that’s what I have been doing the past four years. When Brittnye started at the bank (both work for the Bank of the Southwest), I asked her to join.”

Cancer is serious — barely any family or community is left unscathed.

“A family member, a friend, a co-worker, a church member, somebody knows somebody because it affects so many people,” Porter said.

According to Porter, Walk for Hope has raised in the past nine years $563,733.83. She knows the numbers as treasurer down to a penny. Last year, they raised $80,433.84.

“Last year, we helped people in this community with over $100,000 that we paid back out. You can see that we are giving out more than we are raising, so we’re going to start coming up with more ways, starting to make it bigger and better. We never want to turn anybody down. We have a limit of $2,000 per person and year, but not everybody gets the full $2,000 because people ask for whatever they think they need,” Porter said.

The organization prefers patients to go through Kymera. “They know how to fill out the application and they can help them to fill it out completely the first time and we don’t need to have it returned back to you. We need the doctor’s signature stating that they do have a current diagnosis. That’s basically the verification there and then we ask if they live in Chaves County. Those are the only two requirements to receive help,” Porter said.

The payments are not made to the patient directly. “We pay the money directly for their bills,” Lamb said. “We don’t just give them (the patient) the $2,000. Along with the application, they have to attach car payment, credit card payment, house payment and/or utilities.”

The organization gives out food vouchers for groceries as well.

The walk itself is drawing out families and the community. “It’s a very emotional event,” Porter said. “We are out there trying to raise funds — all the different teams do different things, they have tents set up out there, they do all kinds of fundraising, anywhere from games, to cake walk, to things they have done beforehand. I have seen car washes, whatever they can do to get money, because that’s the whole purpose of the walk. But we are also there to honor. The survivors take the very first lap around the pathway and the pathway is lined up with luminarias and we encourage everybody to purchase luminarias either in memory of or in honor of a cancer survivor or somebody they lost due to cancer. That way they can decorate them or we can have them decorated for them.”

There are other ceremonies, such as a table honoring a loved one that was lost to cancer. There will also be a food tent. “As the committee, we are having two groups who are doing food for us because we have to have the permits with the state. We also have somebody who sponsors the table for survivors, so Lovelace Hospital is doing this for us this year — they are going to be out there feeding all the survivors,” Porter said.

The event is open for the entire family. “Cancer affects everybody, it affects children, adults, men and women. There is no age or gender discrimination. A lot of the games are directed toward kids. It’s a family event and whole families are out there supporting their loved ones, their survivor. You will see groups who are out there with their family members.

“If anyone wants to come out and still register that day, they can always get with us on our Facebook page, call us on the phone number or email us,” Lamb said.

Volunteers are welcome as well, the luminaria bags need to be filled with sand, teams need help to set up at their designated spots and at the drawing table.

“There are awesome prizes, trips to Ruidoso, Yeti cooler, Michael Kors purse, that will be next to the registration table. People want to check that out and buy tickets, and we’ll announce the winners later in the evening. For late sponsorships, they can get a spot on the field, but the posters and T-shirts are already made. We can definitely mention them and take their money,” Porter said.

For more information, visit walkforhopechavescounty.com, call 575-347-1030 or email walkforhope15@yahoo.com or teams@walkforhopechavescounty.com.