Cordova 2×2 Cancer Walk gearing up for annual fundraiser April 22

Thousands of dollars in donations collected in 14 years went to residents for cancer screenings, treatment

Sewan Gelbach and Sharon Ermold carry the 2x2 Cancer Walk banner during the event held in Cordova April 14, 2014. (Photo Courtesy of the Cordova 2x2 Cancer Walk/for the Cordova Times)

The 15th annual Cordova 2×2 Cancer Walk is set for April 22, in conjunction with a health fair at Cordova High School, and this year walkers are welcome to bring their dogs along.

An hour before the walk, a Circle of Hope candlelight gathering in honor of those whose lives have been affected by cancer will take place in the high school commons.

Volunteers for the walk are still needed.

Since 2002, the Cordova 2×2 Cancer Walk has received $94,797 in donations and disbursed $68,900 to 143 residents, to assist them with cancer screenings or cancer treatment expenses.

Nancy Bird, president of the Cordova 2×2 Cancer Walk, says the event is exciting, and even more enjoyable when friends participate in the walk together.

Over the last 14 years, organizers have seen from as few as 50 people doing the walk in the rain to as many as 100 folks coming out to walk in the sunshine.

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“It’s time to get out and exercise! Walk with a friend, 2×2 – and support fellow residents whose lives have been touched by cancer,” she said.

Participants will depart from the high school ballfield at noon, heading for Main Street and down the hill toward the old canneries, through the north containment area, and loop back onto Railroad Avenue, ending at the Cordova Fire Hall.  The Cordova Health Fair, meanwhile, is being held from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Dogs are also welcome to attend the 2×2 Cancer Walk this year – with their owners, of course.

“Recognizing Cordovans’ attachments to their dogs, we are welcoming costumed and leashed dogs to join their walkers. It’d be fun to see dogs with signs or costumes that acknowledge the memory of a cancer survivor or victim, or costumes that encourage folks to do regular cancer screenings. We really want to promote screenings for everyone. It’s so clear that early treatment means the best results, and often also means easiest treatments,” said Bird.

Prizes will be awarded for the smallest, largest, and most-appropriately costumed dogs. Cordova’s firefighters and emergency medical services crews are getting involved again this year, by taking part in the Cordova Volunteer Fire Department’s Head Shaving Event, scheduled at the fire hall after the walk. Members of CVFD and EMS squads are already collecting pledges and donations for shaving their heads.

“For about six years, fire fighters and other community volunteers have raised between $1,800 and $4,100 from shaved heads; this is a very significant part of 2×2 Cancer Walk’s annual budget,” Bird said.

Proceeds from all events are distributed to those needing preventive screenings such as mammograms, prostate-specific antigen (PSA) screenings, colonoscopies, and other tests, as well as treatment and follow-up care, Bird said.

“Each recipient receives $500 for initial cancer screenings, and an additional $500 for treatment or follow-up each year. These funds help families cope with some of the financial burdens caused by cancer,” she said.

“All money raised from this event is distributed to Cordova residents. We have a one-page application form for any Cordova resident who needs either a screening test for cancer, or treatment for cancer. The form basically asks for confirmation from a health care provider. We don’t want or need to know how the funds will be used. The intention is for these funds to help supplement out-of-pocket costs associated with cancer screenings or treatments, like travel or drug costs,” she said.

Walkers are asked to register for the walk at the health fair between 8 a.m. to 11:45 a.m. There is a $5 registration fee.

Cordova’s 2×2 Cancer Walk is a non-profit group. Donations are tax deductible, Bird said, and can be sent to: 2×2 Cancer Walk, P.O. Box 2306, Cordova, AK 99574.

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Cinthia Gibbens-Stimson
Cinthia Gibbens-Stimson is a staff writer and photographer for The Cordova Times. She has been writing in one form or another for 30-plus years and has had a longstanding relationship with The Cordova Times starting in 1989. She's been an Alaskan since 1976 and first moved to Cordova in 1978. She's lived in various West Texas towns; in Denver, Colorado; in McGrath, Cordova, Galena, Kodiak, Wasilla, Anchorage and Fairbanks, Alaska and in Bangalore, India. She has two children and three grandchildren. She can be reached at [email protected] or follow her on Instagram @alaskatoindia.