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Heimann and Spears cancer centers: They walked for hope

Asante’s first cancer walk drew hundreds of staff and the public to support cancer survivors.


Cancer survivor Tonya Sarver made beautiful ribbons, each one representing a different kind of cancer, in honor of her journey and her daughter's. Both were diagnosed with Stage 4 cancers about five years ago.
Staci Sparks, Asante vice president of nursing, Amanda Kotler, Asante chief nursing officer, and Amanda's son, Lev, are about to head over to the starting line to blow the airhorn.
A cancer survivor gets a hug from a friend during the walk.
A cancer survivor and volunteer encourages walkers as they round the corner to the finish line. Photo by Damon Blum
Asante Foundation's Christian Gold Stagg hands out gift cards, hats and water bottles to winners of the Spin to Win.
Walkers gather to register for T-shirts and play Spin to Win before the event. Photo by Kim Budd
Walkers dance to music by the Danielle Kelly Soul Project after reaching the finish line. Photo by Kim Budd
Mujahid Rizvi, MD, thanks the hundreds of walkers gathered at the Heimann Center and gives a special shoutout to the Hematology Oncology Associates' physician assistants in honor of National PA Week.
These cancer survivors volunteered during the walk, including setup and helping people inside the Mary and Dick Heimann Cancer Center.
Michael Absalon, MD, and his team in Asante pediatric oncology came dressed in tutus and T-shirts of gold, the color representing all childhood cancers.
Asante VP of Human Resources Robert Begg and Jessica Ginet, an Asante HR Business Partner, run through the finish line in slo-mo.
Volunteers wave encouraging signs for the walkers made by students at St. Mary's High School.

Hundreds of cancer survivors, friends, families and employees turned out for Asante’s first Walk for Hope Saturday at the Mary and Dick Heimann Cancer Center.

Spearheaded by Mujahid Rizvi, MD, medical director of the Heimann and Helen K. Spears cancer centers, the walk was launched in honor of all those affected by cancer, whether a survivor, a loved one or someone just beginning their cancer journey.

Mick Zdeblick, ARRMC CEO, Amanda Kotler, Asante chief nursing officer, and Staci Sparks, Asante vice president of nursing, sent the walkers on their way with airhorns. Split into two groups because of the large number of people, participants walked about a mile around the Heimann Center and nearby Asante Rogue Regional, then were greeted at the finish line with music by the Danielle Kelly Soul Project and food trucks Peruvian Point, The Melt and Curbside King. (See the walk from a bird’s-eye view in this drone video shot and produced by Emre Koca, MD, of Hematology Oncology Associates.)

Dozens of volunteers held signs cheering on the walkers, helped with setup and cleanup, and manned T-shirt registration tables and first-aid and snack stations.

With more than 600 registrants, Asante plans to make this an annual event.

“This first year was a huge success and drew far more people than we anticipated,” said Brian Murphy, administrative director of the cancer centers. “It just shows how our community is eager to support our patients and their cancer journey. Thanks to all those who came out and especially our volunteers, who worked so hard to make this event amazing.”

Lining the back of the stage were dozens of large, colorful ribbons representing every type of cancer, thanks to Tonya Sarver, who not only has Stage 4 ovarian cancer but helped her daughter through Stage 4 brain cancer. Both have been on their cancer journeys for about five years. She says her daughter was given 18 months. “And she’s here, five and a half years later. And I’m here.”

Participation was free and early registrants received complimentary T-shirts: purple for survivors, white for others. Donations received will benefit the Cancer Compassion Fund at both the Heimann and Spears centers. The fund helps ease the additional burdens of cancer treatment with such items as gas cards so patients can make their appointments and Magic Bullet blenders so they can prepare nutritional smoothies at home.

Tags: Heimann Cancer Center, survivor, Walk for Hope
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