UR Medicine’s Wilmot Cancer Institute will host its eighth annual Wilmot Warrior Walk in a virtual format on Saturday, Sept. 12, and Sunday, Sept. 13. It’s free to participate and registration is now open.
By making this event virtual, there won’t be a single-day, in-person event where thousands gather at the park. Instead, participants are invited to choose a time on Sept. 12 or 13 when they will complete their walk or run, and they’re encouraged to post about it on their personal social media channels using #WilmotWarrior.
While there is no charge to participate in the event, registrants are encouraged to raise funds by creating a team and asking family, friends, co-workers and their community for donations. Money raised will support cancer research and the Judy DiMarzo Cancer Survivorship Program at Wilmot Cancer Institute, the largest organization performing cancer research in the Rochester region.
“Cancer doesn’t quit, even in the face of a global pandemic. Thousands of people in our region continue to be impacted by cancer every day, and we are as determined as ever to find better ways to treat cancer,” says Jonathan W. Friedberg, M.D., M.M.Sc., director of Wilmot Cancer Institute. “I invite everyone who’s been impacted by cancer to form a team, fundraise and join us virtually for the Wilmot Warrior Walk. While I will greatly miss getting together with our community in person, we can still make this weekend in September an inspiring time by showing support for those impacted by cancer.”
Since the event began in 2013, it’s raised more than $729,000. This year, the goal is to raise more than $100,000. It’s a lofty goal to set while in a pandemic, but it’s important: The funding helps strengthen cancer research in our region.
Leukemia survivor and Wilmot Warrior Walk volunteer Ralph Olney knows first-hand how important cancer research is. In July 2011, he had chemotherapy and a stem cell transplant that held his acute myeloid leukemia at bay for a while, but in 2014, it returned. He needed another stem cell transplant, and he says he had a 17 percent chance of surviving.
More than five years later, he’s doing well. He joined Wilmot’s Advisory Board and volunteers to help raise money for Wilmot Cancer Institute through the annual Wilmot Warrior Walk. Last year his team raised $26,150, and while this year is different in so many ways, he hopes to encourage others to form teams and raise funds as well, perhaps in memory or in honor of their family or friends who’ve received a cancer diagnosis. His team, Team Olney, has already raised more than $10,000.
“If it was not for the cancer center, and the UR Medical Center and all the specialists that are available, I can honestly say that I would not be here today,” Olney says. “And we really owe my life to the cancer center.”
But the Wilmot Warrior Walk is not just about fundraising – it’s also a celebration. And while celebrating is different during a virtual event, organizers encourage participants to get into the spirit of the event by rallying around a survivor, purchasing team T-shirts or lawn signs, or finding a team to walk or run together as a small group.
“We have so many ways people can show support for their loved ones who have cancer while also supporting this important cause,” says Stephanie Sheets, Associate Director, Advancement and Community Events at Wilmot. “We will send emails with ideas, but some options include making a team T-shirt, walking together in a small group, putting up lawn signs or making a fun video honoring someone with cancer. We really hope this event can still bring people together just like it has, but just in a different way.”
The Wilmot Warrior Walk sponsors include Kaman Automation and Dunkin Donuts. Sponsorships opportunities are still available. Contact the Wilmot Advancement team at (585) 276-4717 or email@example.com to learn more about sponsorships.
To learn more or register for the Wilmot Warrior Walk, visit WarriorWalk.URMC.edu.