Walking with both heavy hearts and hope.
Sunset Park was the stage for the Eighth Annual Maureen Henry Walk of Hope, a local fundraising event for ovarian cancer research on Saturday, September 16.
The event has been organized each year by Kim Henry, who lost her sister Maureen to ovarian cancer in 2006. She was 42 years old.
Since then, Henry has been determined to not only commemorate her sister and raise funds, but also bring together both survivors and family members that have lost someone due to the disease.
“It went very well. We had about 200 people come and we raised $3,750 so far for the one day event,” said Henry, adding that the money will be given to Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center’s Ovarian Cancer Research Center. “The turnout was great. We danced. We had wonderful raffles. We had so many different raffles going on which was fantastic.”
The day included its annual ceremony where attendees take biodegradable balloons, write inspirational messages in memory of someone they lost to cancer and release them at the park’s hill overlooking the Manhattan skyline. “For me, it’s a moment where all the pain and heartache I had for losing my sister Maureen, it’s a moment I release it,” Henry explained. “It’s very therapeutic. This is very personal to people because they write in honor or memory of someone they lost to cancer or is battling it.”
The day also encourages attendees to get checked by their doctor. “I know a lot of women have started getting their checkups at the time of our event so it’s become such a tradition of women getting it,” she said. “I get mine the week after my sister’s event and my friends have done that too as well as spectators along the way have told me that now they get checked every year.”
Two cancer survivors spoke during the event and shared their stories of hardship. Around 19 survivors showed up in total, Henry said, each of them receiving a medal acknowledging them being a cancer surivior along with a “Certificate of Survivorship.”
Along with a day of remembrance, it was also a day of celebration. The day’s fun included a DJ, dancing, face paint and kickboxing classes. “We try to do interactive classes,” Henry said. “I don’t want it to be such a sad event because we are also here to celebrate our cancer survivors.”
Because of the cause and popularity, the tradition will continue.
“I don’t plan on stopping anytime soon,” Henry said. “The same people come but every year we get new people, too.”
For more information or to donate, visit www.maureenhenrywalkofhope.org.