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UMass Cancer Walk and Run returns Sunday, Oct. 17, at Polar Park

Proceeds from 23rd annual event benefit cancer research and clinical trials at UMass Chan Medical School

By Kaylee Pugliese

UMass Chan Medical School Communications

October 14, 2021

After a virtual event last year due to the pandemic, the 23rd annual UMass Cancer Walk and Run will draw thousands of participants to Polar Park in Worcester on Sunday, Oct. 17, to support adult and pediatric cancer research and clinical trials. Many participants have a personal connection to the event.

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This year, fundraising efforts have brought in nearly $594,000 to date, every dollar of which goes to adult and pediatric cancer research, clinical trials and medical education at UMass Chan Medical School.

John Devereaux, senior systems engineer for the Information Technology at UMass Chan Medical School, joined the walk’s UMMS-IT team in 2020 and became captain this year.

“Cancer touches everybody’s lives in some way, whether it’s directly or indirectly,” Devereaux said.

He got involved with fundraising in honor of his mother-in-law, Charlotte Bair, who was diagnosed with glioblastoma, an aggressive form of brain cancer. She died in late September.

“Charlotte was a very special woman who was kind to everyone she met. She was one in a million, and I’m going to miss her,” Devereaux said.

Last year, his team raised more than $6,000. This year, he and his crew had a goal to reach $7,000 but have raised more than $12,000 so far.

“At least half of the outpouring of support I’ve had individually is just through people who know and love my mother-in-law and wanted to show their respects and support for her,” he said.

Last year’s virtual event raised more than $500,000. This year, fundraising efforts have brought in nearly $594,000 to date, every dollar of which goes to adult and pediatric cancer research, clinical trials and medical education at UMass Chan Medical School.

“That’s a point of huge pride,” said Julie Bowditch, manager of the UMass Cancer Walk and community fundraising in the Office of Advancement. “We’re really humbled by the continuation of support. People are experiencing plenty of challenges and distractions as a result of the pandemic and beyond.”

While the event has historically been held on the UMass Chan campus, this year it will be held at the newly opened Polar Park, located at 100 Madison St. in Worcester, due in part to campus construction.

“UMass Chan Medical School has been proud to host 21 UMass Cancer Walk events on our campus prior to the virtual event in 2020, but the ongoing construction of our new education and research building and the new VA Community Based Outpatient Clinic made holding the walk on campus challenging this year,” said John Hayes, vice chancellor for advancement. “We are grateful to the City of Worcester and Polar Park for partnering with us and providing a wonderful space and walk route in the heart of the city for our supporters to celebrate advances in cancer research and their fundraising success. It’s going to be a very special day.”

More than 2,300 participants have registered for the event . Gates open at 9:30 a.m. on Sunday followed by an opening ceremony and the run/walk, with both a 5K and 1-mile route.

Related stories on UMassMed News:
New location, date announced for 2021 UMass Cancer Walk and Run
Video: Chancellor Michael Collins says 23rd Annual Cancer Walk and Run vital to research, treatments and cure
UMass Cancer Walk and Run supporters continue tradition of generosity