11th Annual Amanda Hichkad CCA Celebration Walk Takes Place May 11

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Members of the 2021 Team KCC Hich-hikers celebrate a successful walk. The 11th Annual Amanda Hichkad CCA Celebration Walk takes place May 11 at The John Carroll School. (Photo Courtesy of Diane Fitzgerald)

Walk aims to raise $125,000 for Cancer LifeNet and its vital, free-of-charge supportive care services

The 11th Annual Amanda Hichkad CCA Celebration Walk takes place May 11 at 8 a.m. at The John Carroll School (703 East Churchville Road in Bel Air). The walk raises funds for Cancer LifeNet, which provides free-of-charge, supportive care services to residents of Harford and Cecil counties, regardless of where cancer treatment is received. Since its founding in 2014, the walk has raised more than $1.1 million for Cancer LifeNet.

Cancer LifeNet’s annual operating budget of $1 million is funded solely through philanthropic support. Located at the Kaufman Cancer Center in Bel Air, Cancer LifeNet provides services to help patients and their loved ones find the resources needed to balance work, family and cancer treatment. Nurse navigators, social workers and other specialists work alongside people diagnosed with cancer and their families to create a safe and nurturing environment to help them with each stage of their cancer care.

UM UCMC is a University of Maryland Upper Chesapeake Health (UM UCH) hospital; UM UCH is a member organization of the University of Maryland Medical System.

The UM Upper Chesapeake Health Foundation partnered with the Chesapeake Cancer Alliance in 2014 to establish the walk fundraiser. The walk brings together many friends and neighbors who walk in teams or as individuals to support their friends and neighbors utilizing Cancer LifeNet.

There are many walk teams, including some organized by various UM Upper Chesapeake Health leaders and departments including President and CEO Elizabeth Wise and her Wise Walkers; Pharmacy’s UM UCH Pharmacy; Quality Management and Patient Safety’s The Fresh Prints of Bel Air; and Community Outreach’s Team WWAD Harford County. These teams were inspired by one of the very first groups to participate–Team KCC Hich-hikers.

Team KCC Hich-hikers was founded during the first year of the walk by Kaufman Cancer Center colleagues. Over the years, the team has included as many as 100 walkers, including medical directors, physicians, nurses, medical secretaries, Patient Family Advisory Council members and family and friends.

Diane Fitzgerald, MBA, MSW, Executive Director of the Kaufman Cancer Center who was the team’s founding captain, said many of her colleagues knew Hichkad (a Bel Air wife, mother of three boys and volunteer extraordinaire after whom the walk was named). Colleagues joined the walk team because they had been directly involved in Amanda’s care and worked with her children and family.

“She held a special place in our hearts, and we wanted to be part of the walk in her honor and in honor of the other special patients we care for each day,” Fitzgerald said.

In the first 10 years of the walk, Team KCC Hich-hikers has raised more than $48,000. If met, this year’s goal of $8,500 will take the team well over $50,000 raised for Cancer LifeNet.

The team is well on its way to achieving the 2024 goal. Nicole Fowler, Manager, Tumor Registry and Accreditations, and co-chair of Team KCC Hich-hikers, said the team has hosted several fundraising events for this year’s walk including Thanksgiving and St. Patrick’s Day candygrams, a T-shirt sale featuring a design created by a KCC infusion center team member, jewelry sale, basket raffle and fundraising nights at area restaurants.

Team KCC Hich-hikers see their participation in the walk as a way to partner with the community to show how unique and vital the services of Cancer LifeNet are to cancer patients and their families.

“Cancer LifeNet sets us apart, and we see our patients impacted everyday by these services and support. When they express their gratitude, it reinforces that we are doing all we can to lessen the burden of cancer on these individuals,” Fitzgerald said.

Patsy Astarita, LCSW-C, OSW-C, APHSW-C, Director of Oncology Integrated Health at the Kaufman Cancer Center and a member and past-captain of Team KCC Hich-hikers, knew Hichkad and her family. “Although the presence of cancer was a constant intrusion in her beautiful life, she refused to allow it to take ownership. She lived fully engaged and present in all aspects and found fulfillment and happiness,” Astarita said. “Her grace was amazing to me. She embraced the gifts and love that were offered throughout her cancer journey and, in turn, offered the same to others.”

This year’s walk has a goal to raise $125,000. Community members are invited to join the walk as a team captain, sponsor, participant and/or donor. The May 11 event is 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.

The walk costs $25 for participants age 13 and up; children 12 and under can join free of charge. Participants who fundraise $50 or more will receive a commemorative giveaway item. Community and corporate support are vital to the success of the walk. To sign up to walk, donate and/or sponsor, visit uchfoundation.org, call the University of Maryland Upper Chesapeake Health Foundation at 443-643-3460 or email uchfoundation@umm.edu. The Presenting Sponsor is Klein’s ShopRite of Maryland.

Over the past year, more than 2,100 people have benefited from the various programs and services provided by Cancer LifeNet. Since its founding 18 years ago, more than 22,000 cancer patients and family members have used the more than 300 free-of-charge services provided by Cancer LifeNet.

The 2024 walk concludes the 10th anniversary celebration of the founding of the Kaufman Cancer Center and the 20th anniversary of the Chesapeake Cancer Alliance.

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. University of Maryland Upper Chesapeake Medical Center Aberdeen includes a state-of-the-art Emergency Department, Behavioral Health Pavilion and the Anna and James Lambdin Health and Wellness Center. The Klein Family Center in Bel Air offers services for behavioral health. The Senator Bob Hooper House in Forest Hill is an assisted living facility that specializes in hospice. 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.

About the University of Maryland Medical System

The University of Maryland Medical System (UMMS) is an academic private health system, focused on delivering compassionate, high quality care and putting discovery and innovation into practice at the bedside. Partnering with the University of Maryland School of Medicine and University of Maryland, Baltimore who educate the state’s future health care professionals, UMMS is an integrated network of care, delivering 25 percent of all hospital care in urban, suburban and rural communities across the state of Maryland. UMMS puts academic medicine within reach through primary and specialty care delivered at 11 hospitals, including the flagship University of Maryland Medical Center, the System’s anchor institution in downtown Baltimore, as well as through a network of University of Maryland Urgent Care centers and more than 150 other locations in 13 counties. For more information, visit www.umms.org.

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