Wheeling for Healing Bike Ride to Raise Funds for Cancer Programs

GREENFIELD — Registration is now open for the eighth annual Wheeling for Healing bike ride on Sunday, Aug. 16, which supports Baystate Franklin Medical Center’s (BFMC) cancer patients, services, and programs.

For the first time, the ride will start and end at Greenfield Community College. Also new this year are a 5K walk/run around the college and through adjoining neighborhoods, and children’s bike-safety activities. The registration fee, which is $40 for cyclists, $30 for walkers/runners, and free for children age 12 and under, includes morning snacks and a Fiesta Feast, catered by Greenfield Community College. Health New England is the presenting sponsor for the event.

Proceeds from previous Wheeling for Healing events have been used to purchase medical equipment and comfort items for patients undergoing chemotherapy at Baystate Franklin, and have also gone to assist patients with extraordinary expenses associated with their illness, including medicines not covered by their insurance.

“Patients often spend a whole day with us — sometimes several days in a row — and many are coping with significant discomfort, said Naomi Bolognani, manager of BFMC’s Oncology Department. “Making sure they are as comfortable as possible is essential. The new infusion chairs, made possible by funds raised through Wheeling for Healing, have been a godsend. And the Patient Needs Fund goes a long way toward easing the many financial stresses that come with dealing with a cancer diagnosis.”

Bruce Mainville, a nuclear medicine technologist at Baystate Franklin, who, together with Dr. Howard Natenshon, spearheaded the first Wheeling for Healing event in 2008, is a strong believer in supporting his local hospital through fund-raising events such as this one. “Everyone needs team support when coping with a diagnosis of cancer,” Mainville said. “Our Oncology Department is that team; let’s support them so they can help our families, friends, and colleagues throughout their cancer journeys. We are encouraging participants to collect pledges and raise additional funds for cancer programs and services at Baystate Franklin.”

Those who have a group of enthusiastic cyclists in their workplace, or who are part of a cycling club or a family of cyclists, are invited to form teams and raise donations together. Teams may be comprised of walkers, runners, and cyclists. They may write their team names on sports ‘bibs’ that will be available at the event.

“With the addition of walkers and runners this year, we have the potential to very generously support BFMC cancer patients, programs, and services — especially if each participant raises $100 or more,” Mainville explained. “It’s rewarding to know that every pledge collected goes to support our local Oncology Department, serving people right here in our community.”

Participants are encouraged to visit baystatehealth.org/wheelingforhealing, where they may design their own web pages, complete with photographs and personal messages about why they are committed to this cause, and send e-mails to solicit additional pledges. Anyone who raises $100 or more in pledges will receive a commemorative sports T-shirt.

Wheeling for Healing features three different rides: a 10-mile route through the Greenfield meadows; a moderate 25-mile ride through Bernardston, Gill, and the Turners Falls and Greenfield bike trails; and a challenging 50-mile route that goes up into the hills of Warwick and Wendell. This event is not a race, and participants are asked to sign up for a course that matches their level of ability.

The walk/run course will include the Greenfield Community College campus, as well as neighboring streets — all within safe, low-traffic areas. Small children could safely ride their bikes while their parents walk or run alongside them.

For more information or to register for or sponsor Wheeling for Healing, visit baystatehealth.org/wheelingforhealing, or call Baystate Health Foundation at (413) 794-4288.

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