Wheeling for Healing returns to South Deerfield to raise money for cancer treatment

Wheeling for Healing, pictured in a previous year, will return to Yankee Candle in South Deerfield on May 19.

Wheeling for Healing, pictured in a previous year, will return to Yankee Candle in South Deerfield on May 19. FILE PHOTO

By CHRIS LARABEE

Staff Writer

Published: 04-16-2024 11:03 AM

SOUTH DEERFIELD — After a successful move to Yankee Candle last year, the 17th annual Wheeling for Healing event is back on May 19, as the fundraiser seeks to continue raising tens of thousands of dollars for cancer patients receiving treatment within the Baystate Health system.

The fundraiser welcomes participants of all skill levels for a 10-, 25- or 50-mile cycling route, along with a 5K for walkers and runners. All routes start at Yankee Candle.

This year marks the second year the event has selected Yankee Candle as its home base and Baystate Health Foundation Fundraising Events Manager Stephanie Johnson said last year’s move was a resounding success. All of the routes this year have also been reworked, which she said will add some new excitement to the event.

“It’s been wonderful. Greenfield was such a great home to us for many years,” Johnson said, adding that Yankee Candle was “gracious enough to have us back.” “We have routes for everybody, we have something to do for everybody, we really want to have an event where everyone feels welcome.”

Event registration is now available online and fees are $40 for adults, $25 for teens ages 13 to 17 and $10 for children ages 12 and under. Online registration closes on Friday, May 17, but folks can also register in person on the day of the event starting at 8 a.m. Registration is open for both individuals and teams, and there is no fundraising minimum.

Money raised goes toward funding cancer treatment and care programs throughout the entire Baystate Health system, which Johnson said covers a lot of people who may receive primary treatments at Baystate Franklin Medical Center, but have to go to Springfield for additional care.

In a statement, Scott Berg, vice president of philanthropy and executive director of the Baystate Health Foundation, said nearly everyone has either faced cancer themselves or seen a loved one go through it, and Wheeling for Healing is an opportunity for people to come together and have a good time, all while raising money for a great cause.

“Wheeling for Healing allows us to celebrate those survivors and reflect on those who have lost their battle while supporting the care we all rely on in our communities,” Berg said. “These proceeds allow us to infuse funding into programs and initiatives that advance care and support our patients.”

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Wheeling for Healing was founded in 2008 by Dr. Howard Natenshon and Bruce Mainville, two longtime Baystate Franklin employees who wanted to give back to the community in support of the patients they cared for.

Since its beginning, Wheeling for Healing has raised more than $607,000, which has gone toward traditional cancer care programs, equipment like comfortable infusion chairs and exam tables, and holistic programming, which includes yoga and art therapies, among others.

“We try to create this funding so it’s an overall improvement to cancer care and treatment,” Johnson said. “Whether it’s something physical or emotional, we want to treat the whole patient.”

To register or make a donation to Wheeling for Healing, visit baystatehealth.org/wheelingforhealing.

Chris Larabee can be reached at clarabee@recorder.com or 413-930-4081.