Wheeling for Healing Raises More Than $72,000 for BFMC Oncology Programs

GREENFIELD — The late Bob Perry will be remembered for helping people to conquer hills.

Perry was the owner of Bicycles & Skis Unlimited in Greenfield and an avid supporter of Wheeling for Healing, Baystate Franklin Medical Center’s yearly ride, walk, and run benefit to support oncology services. Each year, he donated his time and expertise to design the routes, donating bikes as raffle prizes and encouraging fellow cyclists to participate. He passed away shortly after the announcement that this year’s event would be held in his honor. 

At this year’s Wheeling for Healing, which took place on Aug. 25, Perry’s sister, Patty Perry, recalled the support that her brother offered, which continues to strengthen her in challenging times. “One of the things Bob used to do when things got difficult on a ride, he would put his hand on my back and guide me up the hill. He did that for many people, and I think I will feel that today.”

Patients at Baystate Franklin Medical Center facing a cancer diagnosis will feel the support and guidance from Bob as well; the team named Bob Perry and Friends has raised more than $13,000 so far, contributing to the current total of more than $72,000. 

All the funds raised at the event will remain local to support oncology patients at the hospital in Greenfield. Past donations have been used to purchase state-of-the-art equipment such as new infusion chairs and exam tables to ensure patient comfort, support improvements for a better healing environment, and fund programs such as art therapy and yoga to encourage wholesome healing for patients and survivors.

Bruce Mainville, a nuclear-medicine technologist at Baystate Franklin, together with Dr. Howard Natenshon, radiologist at Baystate Franklin Medical Center, founded Wheeling for Healing in 2008. Both are longtime employees of the hospital and wanted to find a way to provide additional support for patients undergoing cancer treatment.

“Everyone needs team support when coping with a diagnosis of cancer,” Mainville said. “Our Oncology Department is that team, and we can be a part of it as well. We all know family members, friends, and colleagues who have battled this disease.”

More than 300 participants and volunteers gathered for the event at Greenfield Community College, choosing one of three distances and routes for cyclists, ranging from 10 to 50 miles, as well as a 5k for runners and walkers. In addition to these active opportunities, supporters were invited to attend a celebration including lunch, , and music.

“This was something that was important to my brother, so we’re trying to carry on his legacy,” Patty said. “I tell people when they’re having a tough ride to just visualize Bob’s hand on your back, and you can do anything.”

Donations for Wheeling for Healing are still being accepted at baystatehealth.org/wheelingforhealing.