What would you give so no one has to face cancer alone?
That’s the million dollar question this year as Winterlark Fundraiser forges ahead with a reimagined virtual event. Originally started among visionary leaders Zandy Wright, RN, Charles Spurr, MD, and local families, they understood the need for emotional support for cancer patients at Wake Forest Baptist Health Comprehensive Cancer Center.
It’s since blossomed, with last year’s event fundraising over $370,000 for the Cancer Patient Support Program (CPSP) at Wake Forest Baptist Health.
The Winterlark funds contribute to approximately 50 percent of the operating budget for CPSP. Some of the program’s services include individual and family counseling, patient and caregiver support groups, therapeutic music, massage, yoga, tai chi, conversations with patient volunteers, hospitality rooms, financial aid, and patient education. Most of the services aim to assist patients handle the tremendous stress and strain they’re facing while undergoing treatment.
The sole mission at CPSP is “to reduce suffering and enhance the quality of life for patients and families all along the cancer trajectory from diagnosis through survivorship.” As the Department of Medicine and Director at the Cancer Patient Support Program, Richard McQuellon, Ph.D. and professor, is an integral part of that mission.
“It has been my honor to direct this program for many years. Doing so has taught me that our volunteers and staff can make a difference each day in the life of our patients who we meet on the journey,” says Dr. McQuellon. “Patient stories can often be heartbreaking. However, they’re also inspirational as so many people demonstrate courage and resilience in the face of the challenges of cancer. Being in the presence of such courage provides hope for the darkest hours.”
He goes on to explain how this year’s fundraiser is different.
“The pandemic has changed everything for so many people and increased isolation and uncertainty for our patients and community. By necessity, the Winterlark has been reimagined from an in-person gala for 500-plus attendees to a virtual environment,” he says. “Instead of celebrating Winterlark on one night, this year we’ll celebrate the event throughout the month of February. While we cannot host our traditional event, we are looking to the deep caring of our community to support cancer patients and their families or caregivers as they navigate their cancer journey from diagnosis to survivorship.”
At the heart of Winterlark 2021 is a peer-to-peer fundraising campaign. This campaign allows community members to raise funds and awareness throughout the month for the event via their own unique fundraising campaigns.
“Winterlark represents a unique partnership between the Comprehensive Cancer Center at Wake Forest Baptist Health and the generous Winston-Salem community,” McQuellon says.