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KYMMA Walk Keeps Hope Alive

Marcia Morris (morris.marcia@gmail.com)

Published: October 6, 2011

Record Enterprise photo from KYMMA's 2011 event PLYMOUTH - The 12th Annual Walk to Fight Cancer took place this past Saturday at the Arold Field on campus at Plymouth State University.

The event, hosted by Plymouth State University Athletics and sponsored by the Plymouth based cancer support group Keeping You Me and Memories Alive (KYMMA), raises funds to help cancer patients and their families who are battling cancer in Plymouth and the surrounding area.

The KYMMA walk is always a stirring emotional event, filled with deeply meaningful symbolism and stunningly spectacular visuals, from the release of white doves at the ribbon cutting ceremony during the kickoff of the first lap, dedicated to survivors, to the heart-warming glow of luminaries along the path in the evening, lit in honor of loved ones fighting cancer, or in memory of someone who has been lost to the disease.

Going the extra mile! The dedicated staff of the Speare Memorial Hospital Oncology Department earned the respect and admiration of all who witnessed their determination to do whatever it takes to support their patients. Pictured above left to right: Kelsey Piper, Ann-Marie Piper and Linda Reisert. Absent from the photo is Sarah Marshall. The Oncology nurses were joined by a team of about 20 other colleagues and friends from throughout Speare Hospital during the annual Keeping You Me and Memories Alive Cancer Walk at PSU.

This year, the day was made even more poignant for the determined participants, as they endured a pelting rain on an unseasonably chilly afternoon as they made their way around the field under umbrellas.

But while a little rain and a little cold can never defeat the spirit of anyone who has had cancer, or the ones who love them, it did dampen turnout somewhat, and forced the postponement of some of the most popular features of the annual event.

As wisdom is the better part of valor, by dusk, it became clear that lighting luminaries was not in the cards, not to mention the planned inaugural launching of Sky Lanterns at the closing ceremony, scheduled for 9 p.m.

Record Enterprise photo from KYMMA's 2011 event The good news is that the postponement will mean that even more people will have the opportunity to attend the ever-popular, inspiring evening ceremony when it is rescheduled, at a date to be determined. Stay tuned for more information. To purchase a luminary or sky lantern in honor of a loved one, visit the KYMMA Web site at www.memoriesalive.org and download a form.

Event organizer Kathryn Melanson said the event was a financial success, and that contributions are still coming in to KYMMA. She thanked the "diehard" supporters who showed up, despite the worst of weather conditions, to support the cause.

Among the diehards were Plymouth State University President Sara Jayne Steen, who welcomed the walkers to event at the start of festivities, and took to the track herself for several laps in the pouring rain with her husband, Joe Bourque, and Plymouth Select Board Chairperson Valerie Scarborough.

Miss New Hampshire, Regan Elizabeth Hartley, was on hand to cut the ribbon for the first lap of the Keeping You Me and Memories Alive (KYMMA) Cancer Walk, held at Plymouth State University on Saturday. The first lap of the annual fundraising event is dedicated to cancer survivors. Pictured above: Emily Hutchins, age seven, from the Speare-it! Team (Speare Hospital) gets to meet Miss NH after putting in her laps in the pouring rain at the KYYMA event.

Kudos also to the dedicated staff members of the Speare Hospital Oncology Department, and at least a dozen of their fellow Speare employees from many parts of the hospital, all attired in the signature breast cancer awareness color, pink, with matching umbrellas, and braved the insult of the pelting rain for an extraordinarily impressive amount of time. They are tough cookies, those Speare Oncology nurses.

We shouldn't be surprised, however.

"We are here supporting our patients," said Speare Oncology Nurse Linda Reisert. "We love what we do. We're passionate about giving quality care to our patients... and we really see the direct benefits that KYMMA provides for our patients. What a difference they make for so many people. We work closely with our cancer patients, sometimes over the course of a long period of time. We see how KYMMA helps them and their families in so many ways."

At the start of the walk, KYMMA's dynamic event organizer, Diane Tiffany, read a moving and eloquent testimonial letter from one recent KYMMA beneficiary, Joyce Liptak of Campton, herself a cancer surivvor, who just very recently lost her husband to cancer. The letter, printed in full in last week's edition of the Record Enterprise on page A6, expresses her husband's gratitude for KYMMA's financial support during what she called his "relentless fight" with cancer.

"A couple of years ago, while in the 'delightful' Medicare 'doughnut hole,' I was paying thousands of dollars on meds," write Liptak. "He mentioned this to Linda Reisert, in the Oncology Department at Speare. Soon aferward, he received a check for $500 to help with the costs. He was 'greatly touched and overwhelmed with gratitude."

In full disclosure, your faithful correspondent, a very grateful beneficiary of KYYMA's generosity and kindness, was also privileged to speak at the event. When breast cancer forced me to take a medical leave of absence from the Record Enterprise this past spring in order to undergo a mastectomy and reconstructive surgery, I was the surprised and delighted recipient of a $500 gas card, that came in the mail, out of the blue, courtesy of KYMMA, which helped pay for all the mileage required to make those many multiple medical appointments at Concord Hospital - many miles away. KYMMA really knows how to make cancer patients feel better. Believe me.

Financial contributions are always welcome to KYMMA, no matter what time of year. To learn more about Keeping You, Me and Memories Alive, call (603) 707-1466, or email info@MemoriesAlive.org, or to make a donation via PayPal, visit the website at www.memoriesalive.org., or alternatively, checks may be made out to Keeping You, Me and Memories Alive and mailed to PO Box 322, Plymouth, NH 03264.

Source: Record Enterprise (Link opens in a new tab or window.)


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