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WALK ON...The Quabbin Reservoir set to Host the Eighth Annual Walk of Champions

March 19, 2013

Michelle Holmgren, Public Affairs & Community Relations Specialist
(Office) 413-967-2296 (Cell) 413-237-6743



Ware, MA (March 15, 2013) - Sunday, May 5, marks the eighth annual Walk of Champions. Once again the Goodnough Dike area of the Quabbin Reservoir will be filled with hundreds of people walking in honor or in memory of loved ones affected by cancer, all with the determination to make a difference in those affected by the disease.

Touched by the wonderful care, compassion and comfort given by Nurse, Maggie Miller and all the staff at Baystate Mary Lane Hospital during his mother’s long struggle with cancer, the Walk of Champions was founded by Ladies Field Hockey Coach, John O’Neill, of Quaboag Regional Middle High School in 2006. As the number of walkers increased, The Walk of Champions move in 2008 from its Warren location to the Quabbin Reservoir in memory of Steven Gagner, who served as a state trooper for 24 years and was stationed at the Quabbin; he had just turned 55 when he died of pancreatic cancer.


Keeping cancer care local is important, and we are honored by the hundreds of walkers who participate in the Walk of Champions,” said Lori Tuttle, RN, OCN, Program Manager of the Baystate Regional Cancer Program Oncology Satellite at Baystate Mary Lane Hospital. “Our patients come from many area communities to receive their treatment here because of the expert care as well as the atmosphere of hope and friendship that we are known for. Our Oncology Team works together to meet the medical and social challenges that patients face with a cancer diagnosis,” said Tuttle.


Chandravathi Loke, MD, and Richard Steingart, MD, are faculty members of the Baystate Medical Practices Division of Hematology and Oncology who provide
convenient access to comprehensive cancer care, clinical trials and a multidisciplinary team approach to cancer care at Baystate Mary Lane Hospital. In 2012 the unit relocated and expanded to the 4th floor of the hospital, formerly the Women & Infants Unit.


Since his diagnosis of a rare from of leukemia in 2000 and then prostate cancer in 2007
The oncology team at Baystate Mary Lane Hospital remains at the side of patient James Korzec of North Brookfield throughout his care in Ware. “Throughout the years, they have provided me and my family, with the best care we could have ever hoped for.” Korzec and his family will come together for the second year as “Team Showboat” at the Walk of Champions teams in honor and memory of his brother Richard “Showboat” Korzec.

“It is a privilege to be able to help patients and their families during one of the most trying times of their lives,” said Dr. Loke. “Hematology/Oncology is an exciting, challenging field to be involved in as rapidly evolving research findings translate into patient care and we have more options to offer our patients than ever before.”


Hematologist, Richard Steingart, MD, who has been providing care in Ware for close to 15 years talks about the close relationships he has developed with the patients that he sees who have been born and live in the area. “Patients can be intimidated to go to the city for care, as a team we do an excellent job caring for them locally,” said Dr. Steingart. “They are so appreciative, the experience is mutual, and we always want to do more for them. The nursing and support staff is solid and caring and I love coming here to provide care.”


In 2012 a record number of walkers participated in the Walk of Champions which is held annually on the first Sunday in May to benefit cancer care services at Baystate Mary Lane Hospital.

“We are so fortunate in this region to be surrounded by a generous community,” said Chuck Gijanto, President of Baystate Regional Markets which includes Baystate Mary Lane Hospital. “In 2012 more than 1,200 walkers raised $77,400 in an extraordinary show of support for friends, family members and neighbors who have been touched by cancer. Since 2006, the Walk of Champions has raised over $377,000. to benefit cancer care, right here in our community, all made possible by individual walkers, teams and many area businesses that sponsor the Walk of Champions.”


Now is the time to form a team and become involved in the 2013 Walk of Champions and help make a in difference in the lives of people undergoing cancer treatment at the Baystate Regional Cancer Program Oncology Satellite at Baystate Mary Lane Hospital. The Walk of Champions offers a 5 mile or 2 mile walk among the comfortable walking terrain of the Goodnough Dike. Along the walk route, there will be entertainment and refreshments among the peace and beauty of the Quabbin Reservoir. Country Bank for Savings is the presenting sponsor of the Walk of Champions, with major sponsorships from local businesses including Heath New England, Amgen “Breakaway from Cancer,” Intercity Lines, Inc., Pioneer Provisions, LLC, Family First Bank and Janine’s Frostee, in the commitment to raise funds to benefit Integrated Cancer Services at Baystate Mary Lane Hospital.


Pledge forms are available for businesses, community organizations, and community members who are participating in the walk. Registration for the Walk, fundraising resources and more including online giving opportunities can be found on the Walk of Champions website at For more information about the Walk of Champions, or to find out how you can become involved, call Michelle Graci, Manager of Fund Raising Events BHF at (413) 794-7654 or by e-mail at