Walk’s goal is to cross the $1 million milestone in support
Friends and neighbors helping friends and neighbors defines the guiding mission of The Upper Chesapeake Health Foundation. Its 9th Annual Amanda Hichkad CCA Celebration Walk, which takes place May 14 at 8 a.m. at The John Carroll School (703 East Churchville Road in Bel Air) and raises funds for Cancer LifeNet, demonstrates that mission in action.
In 2022, those friends helping neighbors are aiming to cross the $1 million milestone since the walk’s inception in 2014; the walk has raised more than $860,000 for Cancer LifeNet in its first eight years. As of mid-April, the walk has raised nearly 60 percent of its 2022 goal of $140,000, and organizers are hoping to raise the remainder, nearly $60,000, by the walk on May 14.
This annual event grows each year and brings the community together to honor, celebrate and remember loved ones, friends and neighbors who are impacted by cancer. It’s a one-mile walk around the John Carroll turf field, and anyone can participate. Those who may not be up to walking are welcome to attend to witness and experience the feeling of community that participants remark on every year. To walk or donate to the 9th Annual Amanda Hichkad CCA Celebration Walk, visit uchfoundation.org.
The walk was named after the late Amanda Hichkad, a Bel Air wife, mother of three boys and volunteer extraordinaire. Hichkad and Bel Air resident Jocelyn Rich are examples of friends and neighbors helping friends and neighbors.
Rich reconnected with her high school friend, Hichkad, when their children attended a Vacation Bible School in Bel Air in the mid-2000s. The women went to high school together in Easton, Pa., but their lives moved in different directions after graduating.
“We were in awe about how we had both landed in Bel Air. In addition to attending the same church, Amanda’s boys and my children were born so closely in age that we had many shared activities. Her oldest son was a member of the soccer team my husband and I coached for seven years,” explained Rich. “Our families enjoyed many wonderful memories including Super Bowl parties, church picnics and soccer tournaments. My friendship with Amanda was sacred to me, and I am so grateful that God intertwined our lives so deeply over many years.”
When Hichkad was diagnosed with cancer several years later, her friends, including Rich, were right there with her, providing support and comfort to her family.
Also among Hichkad’s friends were those who worked at Cancer LifeNet at the Kaufman Cancer Center at University of Maryland Upper Chesapeake Medical Center, a program Hichkad utilized and advocated for during her treatment. Cancer LifeNet provides free-of-charge, supportive care services to residents of Harford and Cecil counties, regardless of where cancer treatment is received. The program offers navigation and support to help cancer patients and their families cope with the physical, financial, psychological and emotional aspects of having cancer. Nurse navigators, social workers and other specialists work alongside people diagnosed with cancer and their families to create a safe and nurturing environment and help them with each stage of their cancer care.
Over the past year, more than 1,900 people have benefited from the various programs and services provided by Cancer LifeNet. The program’s $1 million annual operating budget is funded solely through philanthropic support. Since its founding 16 years ago, more than 18,000 cancer patients and family members have used the services of Cancer LifeNet.
To raise funds for the much-needed services provided by Cancer LifeNet, The Upper Chesapeake Health Foundation partnered with the volunteers of Chesapeake Cancer Alliance to establish a walk fundraiser in 2014. The organizers approached Hichkad about naming the event after her. She agreed because she wanted to ensure that her legacy created a way to fundraise for Cancer LifeNet so that it could continue to have an impact on the lives of her friends and neighbors–now and in the future–in Harford and Cecil counties.
In the inaugural year of the walk, Rich and her family were among the 1,000 participants who raised nearly $100,000 for Cancer LifeNet. Rich and her team, currently named Faith Grace Strength in honor of Hichkad’s battle with cancer and how she chose to face each day, aim to raise at least $2,000 this year.
Rich’s daughter, Naomi, a junior at Patterson Mill High School, was inspired to start her own team for this year’s walk. Her goal is to raise $1,500 through her team, named Cancel Cancer.
“I’ve been involved with this special event each year, and I’m glad that I have grown to have my own team. This cause is special to me and this community, and I’m proud that we are making a difference,” Naomi Rich said.
Community and corporate support are vital to the success of the walk. Klein’s ShopRite of Maryland is the Presenting Sponsor, the Arena Club is the Health and Fitness Partner and the Volun-Teen Leo Club is the Honorary Team. To reach this year’s goal of raising $1 million since its founding, community members are invited to be team captains, sponsors, participants and/or donors. To sign up to walk or donate, visit uchfoundation.org, call The Upper Chesapeake Health Foundation at 443-643-3460 or email [email protected].
About University of Maryland Upper Chesapeake Health
University of Maryland Upper Chesapeake Health, part of the University of Maryland Medical System, includes the University of Maryland Upper Chesapeake Medical Center and the Patricia D. and M. Scot Kaufman Cancer Center on its Bel Air campus. Most recently, it opened The Klein Family Harford Crisis Center in Bel Air offering services for behavioral health. The Senator Bob Hooper House in Forest Hill is an assisted living facility that specializes in hospice. The University of Maryland Harford Memorial Hospital has been operating in the community for over a century and is located in Havre de Grace. The leading health care system and the second largest private employer in Harford County, UM Upper Chesapeake Health offers a broad range of health care services, specialty care, technology and facilities to the residents of northeastern Maryland. Visit www.umms.org/uch for more information.