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Cancer fight is on the march

Walk for Hope organizers hope to raise six figures in this year’s Bethlehem event

Neil and Shari Piper have collaborated with the community to establish the area's annual Walk for Hope to raise awareness for pancreatic cancer. It takes place each fall in the Town of Bethlehem.

Neil and Shari Piper have collaborated with the community to establish the area's annual Walk for Hope to raise awareness for pancreatic cancer. It takes place each fall in the Town of Bethlehem.

— “There wasn’t much out there for caregiver to grab hold of to offer comfort or help to their loved ones,” she said, praising the effort of the Lustgarten Foundation to change that.

Luther’s hope is to bring this specific form of cancer to the public’s attention because the chances of survival are so low.

“Little research is done (comparatively) and pancreatic cancer isn’t as heavily funded as some other forms,” said Luther. “That’s not to say all cancer research isn’t important, but this is meaningful to us.”

The recent deaths of celebrities like Patrick Swayze, Steve Jobs and astronaut Sally Ride, all who succumbed to this particular form of cancer, has brought more awareness to the public about the disease.

In 2010, Piper underwent surgery to remove a suspicious growth from his pancreas. It was found as part of an early detection study at John Hopkins University that is partially funded by Lustgarten. Piper recovered and retained 40 percent of his pancreas, which allows him to live healthy and drug-free. His niece is also involved in the study, as are several local residents who are involved with the Walk for Hope.

“We do the walk less to mourn those we’ve lost, but to celebrate their lives,” said Piper.

The walk is meant to be a happy and unifying occasion for the whole family. The band Code Blue will be playing. There will also be a silent auction, a 50/50 raffle, a visit from the Albany Devil Dawg, face painting and a show by The Puppet People for the children. Food and drinks will be available as well. Kate Welshofer, weeknight anchor for YNN, will serve as emcee.

The Walk for Hope will begin at 10:30 a.m. on Sunday, Sept. 9, from the large pavilion at Bethlehem’s Elm Avenue Park, rain or shine. The walk is 1.2 miles long but many go around more than once. Strollers and wheelchairs are able to take the course.

Day-of-race registration starts at 8:30 a.m. For more information, to donate to the cause or to pre-register, visit albanypcrwalk.org.

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