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Walk for Hope draws nearly 1,000 supporters of our cancer patients

Hope and caring for each other were strong themes among participants.


The sun came out for the Walk for Hope on Saturday.
Before the walk, people gathered to honor the life of Dick Heimann, whose gift helped make the cancer center possible.
Asante's Robin Stoller gets a hug from one of her many supporters. Stoller was diagnosed with lymphoma.
Asante's new CEO Tom Gessel was joined by his wife, Kelly.
Reaching the finish.
Participants were invited to write on ribbons the names of loved ones they were walking for.
The sun came out for the Walk for Hope on Saturday.

The second annual Walk for Hope drew nearly 1,000 walkers to honor cancer survivors and their loved ones Saturday at the Mary and Dick Heimann Cancer Center in Medford.

Among them were 25 coworkers and friends of Robin Stoller, an APP community resources coordinator who is battling a second round of lymphoma. Her small army of supporters surprised her by wearing T-shirts that said, “Her fight is our fight.”

“This group started as a work group,” said Sue Amidon, RN, in Diabetes Education at Asante. “Through the years we’ve gotten closer. Last few years we’ve all had our own medical bumps, and we kind of just said, ‘OK, we need to be a squad. We need to protect each other and take care of each other and make sure we’re all OK.’”

This year’s walk included a celebration of life for Dick Heimann, who passed away just before last year’s inaugural event. He and his wife, Mary, donated $5 million to establish the cancer center and support a dedicated pediatrics infusion clinic in the Olsrud Family Women’s and Children’s Hospital on the top two floors of the pavilion.

Mark Dondero was diagnosed with multiple myeloma a year ago last January. He spent seven months making weekly visits to Heimann Cancer Center more than three hours from his California home for treatment. He told the audience that the message he continually received from Asante providers and staff was to “never lose hope.” His cancer is now in remission.

“I know some of you, like me, have cancer. Or you have a family member with cancer,” he said. “Please do not give up hope. It is the one thing we can all hold on to.”

More than 100 volunteers put on this year’s Walk for Hope, which included food trucks, music by The Brothers Reed, sponsor booths and a family Fun Zone hosted by Rogue Credit Union. Asante’s new CEO, Tom Gessel, and wife Kelly manned the T-shirt booth, and Tom blew the air horn to start the 1.5 mile walk around the Heimann and ARRMC.

Asante Foundation raised over $100,000 in sponsorships for the walk, which is free to participants. Donors could choose their area of impact within cancer care at Asante, including the Compassion Fund for cancer patients in need; the latest technology in cancer treatment, including a linear accelerator for the Spears Cancer Center in Grants Pass; pediatric oncology; and greatest need within cancer services.

Tags: cancer, Heimann Cancer Center, Robin Stoller, Walk for Hope 2023
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