ELKHART — Local cancer survivors and their friends will rally together to support United Cancer Services of Elkhart County one step at a time.
The nonprofit organization hopes to draw more than 500 people at this year’s Compassion Walk to raise $40,000 for services that connect cancer patients to financial aid and other support programs during their first year of treatment.
“It’s a great chance to get all of our survivors, friends and family members together,” United Cancer executive director Peter Norton said. “What’s nice is that we get to see our survivors year after year doing so well and healthy and getting back to their lives.”
One- and three-mile walks along the Riverwalk in Elkhart will begin at 10 a.m. May 4 at the YMCA, 200 E. Jackson Blvd. Check-in begins at 8:30 a.m.
“It’s just such a good vibe to have all of these people together who care and want to help,” Norton said.
Among the hundreds of people expected to participate at the event will be breast cancer survivor Debbie Wiese and her team, Circle of Friends. The group has been a part of the Compassion Walk since its beginning 10 years ago.
“I like that United Cancer helps patients here, and the money raised stays in our community,” Wiese said. “We all have friends and family who have been through this. Just in my family alone, I have three brothers and sisters who have had cancer. I know how much it all costs, even if you have insurance, and we just want to help in any way we can.”
The team typically starts raising money for United Cancer in February, but for Wiese, it’s a year-round effort. She sells cancer awareness T-shirts at her boutique, Seasonal Treasures, and a booth at the Shipshewana Flea Market with Jackie Park, her business partner and fellow breast cancer survivor.
“This is our passion,” Wiese said.
Wiese was living in Goshen when she was diagnosed with cancer. There, she found support through family and friends at the fire department where her husband worked. United Cancer paid for a wig for Wiese to wear while she was receiving chemotherapy and radiation.
“They were there for me when I needed them, and they have been there for a lot of my friends who have gone there to get help,” Wiese said.
Registration for the Compassion Walk is available online at elkhartcancer.org or by calling 875-5158.