Making Strides fundraisers meet some of cancer patients they help

Paul Vasko getting treatment at Hershey Medical Center.
Paul Vasko getting treatment at Hershey Medical Center.

HUMMELSTOWN, Pa. (WHTM) – The Hope Lodge is a place where cancer patients and their families, who live at least 40 miles away from Hershey, can stay for free while getting treatment.

“We were invited to the Hope Lodge as Pacesetters for Making Strides Against Breast Cancer,” said Jennifer Bonanni, who is also a cancer survivor.

Some of the money from Harrisburg’s October Making Strides walk goes to the Lodge.

Paul Vasko getting treatment at Hershey Medical Center.
Paul Vasko getting treatment at Hershey Medical Center.

Pacesetters must raise at least $2,500. Six of them toured what patients call a “home away from home” on Saturday and then had brunch with the patients staying there for the fight of their lives.

“As we pulled into the parking lot, I got a little teary eyed. Just being able to see it in person, it’s amazing,” said Wendy Wolpert, another Pacesetter and cancer survivor.

“He was in an ambulance to come here to Hershey because he had acute myeloid leukemia,” Dawn Vasko said.

Vasko’s husband Paul is on his third round of chemo. Both have been staying at the Hope Lodge for more than 100 days.

“It means everything,” Vasko said. “It means companionship and friendship of the other people who are on similar journeys.”

Pacesetters said the tour and brunch inspired them to continue to raising money.

“It’s a reminder of what I’ve gone through,” Bonanni said. “It’s an inspiration to see them continuing to fight their battles against cancer.”

“It’s such a payoff to see how it’s helping patients that are able to go over to Hershey and be treated and come here and not feel like they have to stay in a hospital environment,” Wolpert said.

The top fundraisers saw where part of their hard work goes and shared stories of survival they know all too well.

People who need cancer information, resources or would like to stay at Hope Lodge can call the American Cancer Society at 1-800-227-2345.

You can donate to Making Strides in Harrisburg by clicking here.

Jennifer Bonanni is still raising money. A link to her website is here.

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