Nearly 2,000 participants walked the "Ripken Mile" on Saturday, raising more than $125,000 for Cancer LifeNet at the Third Annual Amanda Hichkad CCA Celebration Walk at Leidos Field at Ripken Stadium in Aberdeen.
Among the walkers was Cathy Hemmings, an Abingdon resident who organized a team called Mitch's Peeps, named in memory of her late husband Mitch Hemmings, who died in November from colon cancer. More than 75 people from five states joined Mitch's Peeps on Leidos Field as they raised more than $3,000 for Cancer LifeNet.
"One of my daughters, Carly, and I have participated in the Hichkad Walk since it started. We were part of a team captained by a close friend, Jocelyn Rich, a mutual friend of mine and of Amanda and Tejan Hichkad," said Hemmings.
"Jocelyn suggested starting the team this year in memory of Mitch, but I wasn't sure if I was up to the challenge so soon after his passing. However, in organizing the team I learned even more about how much Mitch meant to others. Starting the team in Mitch's memory is one of the many 'silver linings' that God keeps giving us after his passing," Hemmings explained.
"Our team received support from so many people, including family, friends, our soccer 'family,' co-workers, teachers, nurses and neighbors, truly neighbors helping neighbors," Hemmings said. "Donors to our team represented eight states. I am very grateful for their support and to be able to contribute to the good work being done by Cancer LifeNet."
The Third Annual Amanda Hichkad CCA Celebration walk was organized by The Upper Chesapeake Health Foundation and its Chesapeake Cancer Alliance fundraising volunteers.
The purpose of the walk is to honor, memorialize and celebrate neighbors and loved ones in the community in the fight against cancer and to celebrate the power of community and to raise funds for Cancer LifeNet.
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The walk is named in honor of Amanda Hichkad, a Bel Air wife, mother of three boys and volunteer extraordinaire, who died from cervical cancer in September 2014.
Mrs. Hichkad was a supporter of Cancer LifeNet, and her family continues to support the program.
Cancer LifeNet is a free-of-charge program of supportive care services for cancer patients and their families located at the Kaufman Cancer Center at University of Maryland Upper Chesapeake Medical Center in Bel Air.
The services, which help cancer patients balance work, family and cancer treatment, are offered to residents of Harford, Cecil and northern Baltimore counties, regardless of where they receive cancer treatment.
This year marks the 10th anniversary of the founding of Cancer LifeNet. Services and programs include nurse navigators, volunteer navigators, oncology social workers, support groups, specialized classes including tai chi, yoga, healthy cooking, and group programs for children who have a parent or loved one with cancer.
Annually, an estimated 1,500 residents of the community benefit from programs and services offered through Cancer LifeNet, at a cost of nearly $1 million per year. Funding comes solely through philanthropic gifts made to The Upper Chesapeake Health Foundation. Every dollar donated or raised through the walk makes a difference and directly impacts the lives of neighbors and friends in their fight against cancer.