Quabbin Reservoir to Host Walk of Champions

WARE — On Sunday, May 2, among the tall trees of the Quabbin Reservoir, walkers will come together to mark the fifth annual Walk of Champions, to benefit the Baystate Regional Cancer Program at Baystate Mary Lane Hospital.

Once again the Quabbin Reservoir will be filled with hundreds of people walking in honor or in memory of loved ones affected by cancer, with determination to make a difference in those affected by the disease.

Touched by the care, compassion, and comfort given by the staff at Baystate Mary Lane Hospital during his mother’s long struggle with cancer, John O’Neill, girls field-hockey coach at Quaboag Regional Middle High School, founded the Walk of Champions in 2006.

Among the many teams joining O’Neill in his commitment to change the lives of those touched by cancer will be Susan Gagner and her family and friends. Together they will walk in memory of her husband, Steven Gagner, who served as a state trooper for 24 years and was stationed at Quabbin; he had just turned 55 when he died of pancreatic cancer.

“We are very grateful to have the support of the Department of Conservation & Recreation as well at the Massachusetts State Police for the Walk of Champions,” said Deb Gagnon, development manager for Baystate Mary Lane Hospital. “And we are honored by the hundreds of walkers that support this important event annually.”

Country Bank for Savings will be the 2010 presenting sponsor of the walk, Gagnon reported. “Country Bank, the hundreds of walkers, and our local businesses are dedicated and enthusiastic supporters of the Walk of Champions. We are excited to celebrate the fifth anniversary of the Walk of Champions in 2010 and plan this to be the most successful walk yet,” she said, noting that 100{06cf2b9696b159f874511d23dbc893eb1ac83014175ed30550cfff22781411e5} of the walk proceeds are used to fund programs for the Baystate Regional Cancer Program at Baystate Mary Lane Hospital.

“This year we will hold the walk in a new and improved Quabbin location, the Goodnough Dike, where the walkers will not only enjoy the area’s peace and beauty, but also a route that provides a flatter terrain,” she noted. “The Walk of Champions offers a five-mile or two-mile walk, which will include entertainment and refreshments along the way.

“We have had a great deal of community support over the years for cancer services at Baystate Mary Lane,” said Gagnon. “Now is the time to form a team and become involved in the 2010 Walk of Champions and help make in difference in the lives of people undergoing cancer treatment.”

Pledge forms are available for businesses, community organizations, and community members who are participating in the walk. Online donations may be made at www.baystatehealth.org/mlh. For more information about the Walk of Champions, or to find out to become involved, call Gagnon at (413) 967-2458.

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