Community comes together to fight cancer
by Donna Rhodes
PLYMOUTH - Neighbors, family members, friends, college students and area residents all came together last Saturday for Keeping You, Me and Memories Alive. Inc.'s 13th annual Day To Fight Cancer, at Arold Field on the Plymouth State University campus.
(Photo by Donna Rhodes: The ladies of Plymouth State University's Psi Beta Gamma sorority came out to show their support for local cancer patients last Saturday.)
KYMMA is a community-based, 501(c)3 nonprofit organization that assists local cancer patients from the towns of Ashland, Alexandria, Bath, Benton, Bridgewater, Bristol, Campton, Danbury, Dorchester, Ellsworth, Groton, Hebron, Holderness, Lincoln, New Hampton, Piermont, Plymouth, Rumney, Thornton, Warren, Waterville Valley, Wentworth and Woodstock.
Through donations, KYMMA and their many Community Supporters provide fuel assistance, grocery gift cards, gas cards for medical appointments, and other support services patients and their families may need.
Each year, KYMMA also offers book awards to local high school graduates.
Cutting the ribbon for the start of the daylong, nine hour walk-a-thon in honor of both cancer survivors and victims was Miss New Hampshire, Megan Lyman of Gilford.
"I'm a cancer survivor myself, so this is a bit personal for me," she told the large gathering. "The love and support I had was incredible. You never know who is going to be the next. It could even be a loved one in your family, so thank you so very much for coming out here today to support everyone."
The first lap of the day was in honor of survivors, and Lyman and some newfound friends from the Pemi-Baker community led the way. Among the walkers were members of the Plymouth Psi Beta Gamma Sorority at PSU who said it was all a part of their organization's goals.
"We're focused on doing a lot of community service," said senior Molly Donlan. "We have a really good friend of the sorority who was recently diagnosed with prostate cancer, so we're all out here today to support him."
Their participation was set up by the PBG Community Services chair person, Hannah Kelly, and president Kristen Brewer said they were grateful for the opportunity to show their support.
"We've walked a few laps already, and will walk some more before we leave today," Brewer said.
Another group out to show their support was Team Speare-It from Speare Memorial Hospital. Nurses, lab specialists, emergency room staff, pharmacy staff, surgeons, human resources and others from the local hospital took turns throughout the day walking the course.
Michele Hutchins, Director of Community Relations at SMH, said participating in the walk just comes naturally to the hospital and its employees.
"We're here to support our patients. Besides having an oncology clinic, we have survivors who are members of our staff, too," Hutchins said. "Being here today is indicative of us not only being supportive of the Speare Hospital community, but the surrounding community, too."
Along the walk, there were signs from people touched by KYMMA over the years, each expressing their gratitude for the help and support they have received.
"You guys are the angels I hear about that are here on earth," read one sign from J.H. in Wentworth.
And, from F.G in Bristol, "I thank God that there are people like you."
Personal luminaries along the walking path expressed love for those who have died, and encouraged others who are still battling cancer to "stay strong" and "hang tough." Hearts, flowers and other meaningful hand drawn decorations adorned each luminary.
Walkers were able to take a break throughout the day and enjoy some fun, too. Students from the PSU Art and Art History clubs tie-dyed tee shirts for a minimal donation, and the Gaming Club had fun for kids of all ages with a selection of games set up at picnic tables. A Dollar Sale raffle and silent auction allowed people the opportunity to win jewelry, gift certificates, crafts, getaway packages to local resorts and much more. Some volunteers carefully painted pink cancer support ribbons on fingernails, while others manned a barbecue grill with plenty of food and desserts for everyone to enjoy lunch or dinner in between laps.
Hair cuts for donations to Locks of Love also took place during the afternoon. Juggling Jim performed for the crowd and, as a backdrop to it all, there was live music from the Newfound Middle School Band, Chris White Band, Uncle Steve Band, Lou Parrazzo, Jim Tyrell, and Pardon the Spins.
"Everything you see here today has been donated to us, so everything we raise goes directly to our neighbors in need," said KYMMA treasurer, Diane Tiffany.
She applauded the many volunteers who helped make the day a success and expressed her gratitude to the PSU Athletic Department for use of the grounds for the day's festivities.
Next up for KYMMA, weather permitting, will be "Mesmerize with Memories" on Saturday, Jan. 5, 2013, when sky lanterns will be released as a special tribute to cancer patients. More information on the event will be made available as the date draws closer.
To make a tax deductible donation or learn how your business can become a Community Sponsor of KYMMA, please visit MemoriesAlive.org.