The Saratoga Sun -

Cancer walk distributes $15K


Max Miller

After-lunch smiles are worn by front row from left, Linda Butler, Katie Loose, Meredith Lincoln, Matti Stevenson, and Mychaela Jackman. Middle row: Laura Bucholz, Tonya Bartholomew, Max Schneider, Liandro Escobedo and Taylor Bennett. Back row, Dean Bartholomew and Scott Bokelman.

2016 was the biggest year yet for the five-year old Saratoga Cancer Walk, both in terms of participants (more than 250) and funds raised (over $15,000). On Sept. 8, several walk organizers, Saratoga High School (SHS) principal Linda Butler and SHS students who did "legwork" for the Fourth of July fundraiser gathered at the Wolf for a valedictory lunch and check presentation ceremony.

According to Scott Bokelman, an SHS industrial technology teacher and cancer survivor, the $15,000 will be split between the Corbett Medical Foundation and the Wyoming Breast Cancer Initiative (WBCI). The two groups wage the war against cancer on different fronts, as Bokelman explained it. The Corbett Medical Foundation dispenses funds to local families affected by the disease, helping to defray treatment related travel expenses, for example, Bokelman said. The WBCI, on the other hand, is a statewide effort to fund mammogram screenings and promote breast health education, according to the group's website.

Represented at the luncheon by board member Linda Bucholz, the Corbett Medical Foundation will be getting $12,500 of the total, while the WBCI will receive $2,500. "Tonya and Dr. Dean (Bartholomew) had the idea of splitting the money between the groups," Bokelman said. In their work at the Platte Valley Medical Clinic, the Bartholomews help identify those who may benefit from the Foundation's charitable programs, and both Tonya and Dean also attended the lunch.

Bokelman said Saratoga's walk was inspired by "Komen Walks" held in cities like Denver and Cheyenne. "Komen Walks" raise funds for the Susan G. Komen Foundation, which was also a beneficiary of the Saratoga Walk as recently as 2015. This year, though, Komen announced that it is closing its Wyoming affiliate in 2017, so Saratoga's walk money was channeled to WBCI instead.

Bokelman planned this year's walk in between radiation treatments for thyroid lymphoma, said Tonya Bartholomew after the lunch. Tonya Bartholomew said "the biggest piece (of the fundraiser) is getting businesses to support it."

In addition to helping local families, she said the fundraiser is an important learning opportunity for students who help organize the event. "They're not just supporting cancer (efforts), but they're learning life skills like advertising and marketing and planning," Tonya Bartholomew noted.

Having grown from an event with only 30 people, Saratoga's cancer walk has certainly come a long way. "It started just sitting down with some kids in a classroom," Bokelman said. This year it ended with $15,000 for families in need–and the tradition seems to be just underway.


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