Search Close Search
Search Close Search
UMass Cancer Walk and Run 2019
Page Menu

Stories of your support

UMass Cancer Walk and Run supporters continued tradition of generosity

Gratitude, solidarity and hope were the themes of the day on Sunday, Sept. 13, 2020, when the 22nd annual—and first-ever virtual—UMass Cancer Walk and Run took place. And with good reason, as donors, fundraisers and sponsors maintained their steadfast support for cancer research and clinical trials at UMass Chan Medical School*.

“The pandemic changed nearly everything about this event—except the dedication of our supporters,” said Rich Carr, chair of the UMass Cancer Walk and Run’s volunteer steering committee and president of Carr Financial Group, one of the event’s presenting sponsors. “They didn’t let anything stop them from demonstrating their commitment to fighting cancer. They made donations, they led fundraising teams and they sponsored, just as they have every year, and we’re so very grateful for their efforts.”

A 35-minute program co-hosted by Carr and Nanette Duquette, director of community fundraising and lead organizer of the event, was livestreamed on event day at 10 a.m., the traditional start time for the in-person walk. Various personal stories from cancer patients and survivors, and their families, were shared, as were messages of thanks from medical school and local leaders.

Special appearances were made by Jenny Johnson, co-host of NESN’s “Dining Playbook” and WBZ’s “Food for Thought” programs; Toneisha Harris, a finalist from season 18 of “The Voice;” and Ricky Duran, a Central Massachusetts native and finalist from season 17 of “The Voice.” Duran shared an exclusive look at a soon-to-be released video for his new, original single, “She Closed Her Eyes,” written in memory of his mother, who lost her battle with breast cancer in 2018. Harris shared her original song, “My Superhero,” for the online version of the survivor lap that traditionally kicks off the walk portion of the event.

Rounding out the programming were spotlights on two longstanding fundraising teams—Team Absolute and Team Tate Strong— who embraced the “Your place, your pace” theme by holding team walks in their respective neighborhoods.

Underscored throughout the online event were messages about the importance of fundraising and how it affects both the work being conducted at the Medical School and people with cancer and their families.

“Your support and partnership are as vital as ever, perhaps even more so in the current environment,” said Chancellor Michael F. Collins during the program. “We must remain vigilant in our fight against cancer, and continue to invest in the lifesaving work of our frontline clinicians involved in cancer care, to fuel the pioneering research of our world-class faculty, and to bring hope and healing to the brave patients and their families who depend on our academic health sciences center to help them when they most are in need of our expertise.”

“Finding better treatments and a cure for cancer are vital, and the only way we’ll get there is through research and clinical trials,” said Carr at the close of the online program. “Your gifts matter. You bring hope to those who need it most. And we are so grateful for you and your support.”

According to Duquette, fundraising totals exceeded the $500,000 mark at the end of 2020.

“We knew our most dedicated fundraisers and sponsors would continue their support, and encourage others to join them,” she said. “The engagement we saw leading up to, and after, our virtual event through our online fundraising platforms and social media was terrific.”

To support that momentum, presenting sponsor Harr Auto Group provided a match incentive: for every dollar donated on Sept. 13 and 14, 2021, the company donated $2, up to $10,000. This was the second challenge match by a presenting sponsor for the 2020 event; Carr Financial Group offered a similar incentive in July 2020, which raised nearly $20,000.

“Overall, it was a great event and an inspiring year of fundraising and support for the work in cancer research and clinical trials being done at the Medical School,” said Duquette.

“I want to thank everyone for their donations and support of the UMass Cancer Walk and Run, particularly in 2020 during such a stressful time,” said Jonathan Gerber, MD, the Eleanor Eustis Farrington Chair in Cancer Research, chief of the Division of Hematology-Oncology in the Department of Medicine, medical director of the UMass Cancer Center and associate professor of medicine. “The event is such a huge source of support for us and our team and, most importantly, for the patients that we care for. Your donations are absolutely vital to the life-saving clinical trials that we’re able to offer here at the UMass Cancer Center.”

22nd annual UMass Cancer Walk and Run - Sept. 13, 2020

2020 event thumbnail 2.png

Gratitude, solidarity and hope were the themes of the day at our first-ever virtual event, which featured personal stories, messages of thanks and some special guests!

*As of Sept. 7, 2021, which is in the FY22 fiscal year, UMass Chan Medical School is now UMass Chan Medical School thanks to a transformational gift.