October is nationally recognized as breast cancer awareness month. In the greater Springfield area, the month also heralds an iconic event that attracts over 24,000 participants to help raise funds for breast cancer patient support, and locally based research into the disease.
But in 2020, the coronavirus pandemic had other ideas, upending daily life and creating a “new normal” that eschews large gatherings like October’s Rays of Hope walk in the name of public health.
So what does one of the biggest events and fundraisers in the area do when faced with such a challenge?
It reinvents itself.
Prime spoke with Michelle Graci, manager of events for Baystate Health foundation, and Jackie and Al Rodriguez, the co-chairs of this year’s Rays of Hope Walk & Run Toward a Cure of Breast Cancer, about how they reimagined the event for 2020.
You can read about the Parade of Hope, the reimagined survivor recognition, and how they even figured out a way to include the traditional ‘water stop” into a celebration that’s both in person, online, and for the walk itself, anywhere – in this month’s feature story.
But Rays of Hope is more than just a walk, it supports a remarkable research and treatment facility at Baystate Medical Center, so for this month’s Three Big Questions, it seemed fitting to reach out to the co-director of the Rays of Hope Center for Breast Cancer Research,
Dr. Grace Makari-Judson, for insight into the latest thinking on breast cancer treatment and detection.
Both of these stories are very close to my heart, as breast cancer has touched two members of my family in recent years, and I have several friends who have also had to face the disease.
Another group that’s close to my heart
I also had the privileged of talking with members of one of my favorite choral groups, Young@Heart out of Northampton, MA, about their latest CD release on Oct. 2 and virtual benefit concert/release party on Oct. 3. Not even a pandemic could keep this group of singers - the youngest of whom is 75 - down for long! You’ll find info about the concert- and how you can watch it online, in this month’s Dining & Entertainment section.
As always, we at Prime hope you are staying safe and healthy, following the CDC guidelines for any outings, and above all, keeping up your social connections in the “new normal” way.
Thanks for reading this month,