By Gloria Austin
COVID-19 swept in. Cancer burrowed in.
COVID-19 straight off demanding attention. Cancer stays wanting.
COVID-19 a potential cure. Cancer gaining ground … still no cure.
Why can such great medical minds dampen and dismantle a virus, but still after medical and technological advances, we can’t abolish the degeneration within. We can slow it; we can put it in remission, but we cannot cure it.
COVID-19 has distracted us.
The good news: Bridge to Hope.
The grassroots began October 2006 when Cathy Kennedy organized the first “Bridge To Hope Breast Cancer Awareness Walk” through downtown Houlton. The next year, Kennedy was joined by Kim Folsom, Dee Henderson and Marie Carmichael.
From the first year of approximately 50 participants, who raised over $800 donated to the American Cancer Society.
“We have grown in scope and participation,” said Kim Folsom of Bridge to Hope.
With the first-ever walk held in Houlton’s Riverfront Park at the Gateway Crossing Bridge, the committed group’s name was born – Bridge to Hope – with a mission to bridge the hope to all fighting this dreadful disease.
In 2011, Pam and Amy Hocking joined the cause.
“They have generously donated their talents of making quilts, Bosom Buddy Bags and jewelry,” Folsom added.
Funds raised by Bridge to Hope are used to help individuals undergoing cancer treatments with travel expenses, hotel accommodations, meal gift cards, gift baskets, and even turkeys during Thanksgiving and Christmas.
“We help those battling any types of cancer, not just breast cancer,” said Folsom. “ We also support Sarah’s House in Brewer that is open to cancer patients if they are having treatments in Bangor.”
Continuing, Folsom added, “We also try to offer a small scholarship to a local student that has either participated in our walk or has been affected by cancer. The amount varies depending on what we have for funds at any given time. The local schools are very generous and have held numerous events and donated the proceeds to Bridge to Hope.”
Bridge to Hope accepts donations any time throughout the year.
“ You may be the richest or poorest person in the world, but when you hear the dreadful words “you have cancer”, we all become one,” Folsom said.
COVID-19 did not stop cancer.
“People are starting or continuing their battles with cancer,” said Folsom. “Unfortunately that can’t be put on hold. We continue to get new names and are doing our best to deliver a card to them, even though we can’t visit at this time.
Folsom added, “ We will follow up with all those who are battling and hopefully be able to spread a little cheer to them in their time of need. And, in normal circumstances, a hug for support.”
The 15th annual Bridge to Hope Walk is scheduled for Saturday, October 17.
“Once we can get together again, we will be putting together some ideas to celebrate this milestone.
Designed to keep the focus off her son’s deployment overseas, Kennedy discovered a way to help others, starting in her own family. She had witnessed family members battling breast cancer so Kennedy set in motion the cultivation of the significant and vital work of Bridge to Hope.
COVID-19 swelled like an angry wave, but it will wash over us, with hopes of a vaccine to combat it.
“Unfortunately, I don’t see that there will ever be a simple vaccine to prevent cancer,” Folsom added sadly.
Like the ocean wave, we can renew our energy, renew our minds and bridge the gap for hope.
[Check out Bridge to Hope’s Facebook page]
By Gloria Austin