FAIRFIELD, Conn. -- It was a friend's personal tragedy with cancer that prompted Fairfield resident Stefanie Dinneen to help run a fundraising walk to help patients and their families.
The bookkeeper first joined the annual CancerCare Walk Run for Hope in 2011 as her friend's mother was battling ovarian cancer, she said.
"She was a speaker at the walk and invited my grandmother and me to walk with her to support CancerCare."
The Norwalk-based organization provides free emotional and practical support for people with cancer, their caregivers, loved ones, and the bereaved. This year's walk will be held Sunday, Sept. 11, in Fairfield.
"When she passed away in 2011, her family formed our team, I Hope You Dance, and from then on we have participated annually in this event," Dinneen said.
"After the 2012 walk, I was invited to join the committee for the event," she said. "It has been an honor to participate both as a walker and as a committee member."
Dinneen said she wanted to get involved "because this organization directly impacts the lives of people I knew in a positive way. I wanted to help them continue to do this for many other people."
Money raised from the walk/run pays for the free services offered for anyone affected by cancer, Dinneen said.
Services include counseling, support groups, education workshops about cancer-related issues, publications with information on cancer-related topics, financial assistance, community programs, and free wigs.
Participants in the Sept. 11 fundraiser can walk or run the course, said Dinneen, whose team members mostly walk.
"We walk with our pets and balloons in town in memory of my friend's mother, Karen Watts."
She emphasized the important role CancerCare can play for a family facing cancer.
"It provides many services to help with a cancer diagnosis, but most importantly it offers a community of people who want to help you through a difficult time," she said. "Whether it is you or a loved one who has received a cancer diagnosis, there are services offered to help you.
"My friends personally received services from CancerCare while their mother was sick. And after she passed away Sandy Tripodi (senior director of community engagement) reached out to me to see how the family was doing and continued to follow up."
Walkers and runners of all levels and ages can join the Sept. 11 walk/run.
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