By Ruth DiCristoforo Turley Publications Correspondent
Wilbraham resident Susan Burk will soon be lacing up her sneakers, walking 26.2 miles in the annual Boston Marathon Jimmy Fund Walk raising funds for the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. Burk’s ambitious goal of raising $7,025 is tied to the fact that she is now 70 years old and this is her 25th time walking in this event. Although Burk has been a two-star pace maker (raising more than $1,500) for the past two years, she admits “$7,025 is big stretch for me. I’ve never tried to raise this much money before.” Years ago, Burk was motivated to participate in the walk by the sheer challenge of the idea of walking 26.2 miles. As a girl, she was inspired by her father who lived to be 101 years-old. He walked over 10 miles a day going out three times a day for a 3.5 mile walk until he was 95 years-old. However, over the years her motivation changed. She states, “The fundraising became more important to me. Both my mother and mother in-law died of cancer. I began to see the importance of raising funds to continue modern research and treatment methods of cancer so those can live with cancer and also to remember those you have not survived. “The progress with treatment has been nothing short of miraculous; something to celebrate but there is still a lot of work to be done”.
Year-Round A year-round fitness program keeps Burk in good walking shape. She typically walks 4 miles on Monday, Tuesday and Thursday. In the winter time this means six laps around the interior of the Eastfield Mall. In June she adds on a 6 to 8 mile weekend walk to her schedule building up to 16 to 18 miles on the weekend so by Labor Day she is fit for the annual Boston Marathon Jimmy Fund Walk later on in the month of September. “I have a dual satisfaction of being able in a small way to help support research and treatment of cancer at the Dana Farber Institute simply by putting one foot in front of the other and from the fitness side I have the satisfaction being able to walk the 26.2 miles for another year.” She is little under her half-way point of reaching her goal. Her primary fundraising activity is her annual fundraising letter sent out to family, friends and past colleagues asking for support. Burk and her husband also contribute to the fundraising goal each year. Supporters make donations directly to her personal page provided by the Jimmy Fund website and have an option to leave a name either in honor or in memory of someone. “Just prior to the start of the walk I read the entire list of names sent to my website and then I carry the list of names in my pocket for the walk, so everyone walks with me.” Overall there is an average of 8,000 walkers with about 2,000 people walking the full 26.2 mile route. There are other options for 13.1 miles, 10K and a 5K, as well. This 28th annual September Jimmy Fund Walk is the only other official event sponsored by the Boston Athletic Association on the official route of the annual Boston Marathon in April. On Sept. 25, the walk begins with a rolling start in Hopkinton between 5:30 and 7:30 a.m. and will take Burk an average of 9.5 hours to complete. This time includes three to four bathroom breaks, a half-hour lunch and a change of socks at mile 16. She will take approximately 62,000 steps to complete the 26.2 miles
Hopes to Continue Burk remarks how the houses along the way and the people standing along the route may change over time however “there is always a continued dedication of all the folks who make this happen every year to collectively raise about $8 million for Dana-Farber. All the people you meet in the walk who have been personally touched by cancer are so inspiring. I will always remember one large group of walkers who customized the back of their t-shirts with ‘I’m with Dave and he beat Cancer’ and they kept walking by me one by one and then finally along came the shirt that said ‘I’m Dave’ and that was just amazing.” Burk plans to continue raising funds for Dana-Farber Cancer Institute every year until she can’t put one foot in front of the other or until all cancers are treatable. Someday she would like to be one of the 10 oldest walkers. Burk says “I hope I will still be walking when I am 99, which would be my 54th walk, and maybe I will try to raise $9,954 then.” Burk would like to invite the community to help her reach her goal of raising $7,025. In her annual appeal letter Burk writes “Contributions will help Dana-Farber continue its work to make the world a place where cancer is a treatable disease and where those who have cancer can be confident they can LIVE with it”! Folks may help Burk celebrate her 70th birthday and the progress in cancer treatments over the last 25 years she has been walking by making a donation to Dana-Farber on her fundraising page at jimmyfundwalk.org/2016/susanburk. All donations support Dana-Farber Cancer Institute’s 50-50 balance between cutting-edge science and compassionate cancer care. Eighty-eight cents of every dollar directly supports cancer research and patient care at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. ... See MoreSee Less
WILBRAHAM – Motorists are advised to seek alternate routes as the Department of Public Works announced Tinkham Road and Soule Road will be closed for resurfacing Friday, Aug. 26 and Saturday, Aug. 27. Crews will be resurfacing Tinkham Road from Main Street to Stony Hill Road and Soule Road from Catherine Circle to East Longmeadow Road. Side streets will be blocked as paving progresses in order to keep vehicles off the hot asphalt. Roads will remain closed until they are safe for vehicle traffic. ... See MoreSee Less
Local woman participates in annual road race for cancer research
By Peter Spotts Turley Publications Staff Writer
WILBRAHAM – Laura Robles had not considered running in a road race before, until this past May, when her brother received a diagnosis for non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. Four months later, Robles will be running in the 44th Annual New Balance Falmouth Road Race on Sunday, Aug. 21 to help conquer cancer in honor of her brother and all those affected by cancer. “I am definitely excited about the race. It is a great cause [and] it means a lot to me to be a part of the team because I have a family member fighting [cancer]. I think it is an honor. Come race day I really feel like I am running for my brother and everyone that has been affected,” she said. “There is so much more motivation not to have a great time, but to just do it for all those people. Cancer is a horrible, life-shattering kind of thing that rocks your world in your entire family. It impacts everybody, your parents, siblings, and children.” Having a family member going through cancer greatly changes the outlook of a situation. Robles' brother is currently in the treatment stage and she says he is “doing as well as he possibly could be doing. I found out on Mother's Day [my brother had cancer]. When I was asked to join Dana-Farber's running team I of course said yes because it was the first time cancer had affected my family. I don't think I would have done it had it not been something that had hit so close to home. You do not know how it impacts people until you are one of those people.” In preparation for the 7 mile road race, Robles had to raise at least $1,500 in fundraising. She hit that mark in about two months reaching $1,560 in her first time in a major fundraising campaign such as this. “I have done raffle baskets, personal emails, letters, messages, phone calls, just basically reaching out to my personal friends and family. I reached my commitment and I am super thrilled about that [because] I have never fundraised before like this,” she said. “It was nerve wracking because you are asking people [for money]. Now that it is completed I can focus on race day stuff.” Training for the race has included daily runs regardless of how hot the summer heat wave hits. For Robles, it is all about getting her body used to the conditions and with the projected weather for the race currently in the 80s, she wants to make sure she can handle the heat. She originally found out about the race through her employer, Ninety-Nine Restaurant. The restaurant chain started a running team that joins with the Dana-Farber team following the death of a company member due to cancer. When Robles was asked to join this year, she could not say no. “When I did find out [about the race] it was like I had all the reason to run now,” she said. The race kicks off in Woods Hole and concludes at Falmouth Heights. The Dana-Farber team is more than 280 strong and is shooting for the fundrasing goal of $850,000 with all proceeds going to the Jimmy Fund. It is their 14th year participating in the historic race. More information about the Dana-Farber team and the race is available at www.rundanafarber.org/falmouth2016. Those interested in donating can contribute to Robles' 2016 race campaign at www.rundanafarber.org/falmouth2016/laurar. ... See MoreSee Less