The Ithaca community will come together at the Cancer Resource Center for the Finger Lake’s 18th annual Walkathon & 5K Run to help raise funds for local residents fighting cancer.
The event drew a crowd of about 700 people last year and raised almost $115,000. All of the event’s proceeds raised this weekend will go directly toward the center’s efforts to help members of the community through outreach services such as one-on-one counseling, referrals and wellness programs.
Bob Riter, executive director of the center, said the organization looks to provide solidarity and support not only for patients fighting the disease, but also for their relatives and friends.
“We try to help make sure that no one really feels alone during this difficult process,” he said.
The center has support groups for women, men, young adults and patients with more advanced cancer.
Junior Maya Kachroo-Levine, who volunteers for the center, said the organization’s main draw is its accessibility for patients.
“The whole beauty of the Cancer Resource Center is that they’re a very local organization looking to help clients who are really suffering and going through a hard time,” she said. “That also holds true for the families.”
Junior Catherine Paccione, who also works at the center and has been volunteering since January, said it is essential to continue raising money for it to keep operating.
“It’s a really important cause to gain money for because if we didn’t get the money we needed we would have to shut down,” she said.
About half of the participants do the two-mile “fun walk,” a leisurely stroll for those who do not wish to participate in the 5K timed run, Riter said. The event will also include a pancake breakfast and live music by local artists.
The walk was planned by the center’s staff, who were more than happy to help out with the long process, Kachroo-Levine said.
“It’s not just a walk,” she said. “It’s about the season, it’s about people celebrating and it’s about people walking for someone. They’re walking for a cause.”