Archive for the "Programs" Category

Miles of Hope/HRRA free rowing classes for breast cancer survivors

Miles of Hope and the Hudson River Rowing Association are collaborating to offer free dry land rowing classes to all breast cancer patients and survivors.
“Medical experts, doctors, cancer researchers and specialists all agree now that exercise after breast cancer is good for the patient both mentally and physically,” explained Miles of Hope Executive Director, Pari Forood.

According to an article in BU Today, “Studies show that exercise benefits breast cancer survivors,” says Michael Stone, chief of surgical oncology at Boston Medical Center and a School of Medicine professor. “Exercise improves breast cancer survivors’ quality of life,” he says. “In the old days, they were told not to exercise, but I think that has been largely debunked. It helps with confidence and body image, and they feel better.”

Kimberly Kochem, Our Lady of Lordes crew coach, will lead the classes for breast cancer survivors at the Hudson River Rowing Association Boathouse.
“Kimberly came to me with this idea a few months ago and I thought it was brilliant,” explained Ms. Forood. “She is a former Marist rower and a rowing coach and the perfect person to lead/teach this class. We are honored and grateful to collaborate with Kimberly and the HRRA on this class for breast cancer survivors.”

For more information: 
WHEN: All Tuesdays in September: 9/ 6, 13, 20, 27
TIME: 7:30-8:30 p.m.
WHAT: Dry Land Rowing Class for Breast Cancer patients and survivors
WHERE: Hudson River Rowing Association Boathouse, 270-272 N Water St, Poughkeepsie, NY 12601
(845) 206-4765;
COST: Free to all affected by breast cancer
For information and to register, email:

Miles of Hope Announces Sunday’s Brunch Program

At the Miles of Hope Annual Spring Brunch on Sunday, May 1, at the Grandview in Poughkeepsie, IBM will make a presentation on how breast cancer treatment is impacted by Watson Health; Nettie Womack and Patty Nelson, breast cancer survivors and activists in the African American community will be honored; and seven scholarships will be awarded to area high school seniors whose lives have been affected by breast cancer.

Pari Forood, Executive Director of the Miles of Hope Breast Cancer Foundation said: “Our program is full of informative, educational and heartwarming elements. We are expecting over 400 guests, all in pink, to honor and remember those affected by breast cancer in our Hudson Valley.”

“We are excited about the IBM presentation. In a nutshell, Watson Health gathers patient data and compares these against known cases. It then provides a report detailing options for individualized treatments.”

Nettie Womack and Patty Nelson, sisters, breast cancer survivors, and activists in their African American community, will be honored at the Brunch for reaching out to this minority population at church and social gatherings through their Women of Faith Health and Wellness Ministry. Congressman Chris Gibson, NYS Senator Sue Serino, County Executive Marcus Molinaro, and Mayor Rob Rolison will all be presenting commendations to the Honorees.

The Brunch will also highlight local high school seniors receiving scholarships to college:

Thanks to our major sponsors WMCHealth, and Health Quest.

And to all sponsors: James J. McCann Charitable Trust, Arnoff Moving and Storage, Hudson Cadillac/Buick/GMCPremier Medical Group, Hudson Valley Federal Credit Union, Hudson River Fruit, Marcia Brady Tucker Foundation, C2G Environmental, Jane W. Nuhn Trust, Dr. Joel Canter, Poughkeepsie South Rotary Club, Millman Harris Romano Foundation, Race for the Cure, Judelson Giordano and Seigel, Berkshire Hathaway, Caremount Medical, D’Arcangelo, Advance Testing, North River Abstract, Monica and Jacob Frydman, The Kapstone Corporation, Williams Lumber and Home Center, Rose and Kiernan, Poughkeepsie Journal, Dutchess Pro Print, Harold Albinder, Brookside Meadows, NY Design Center, Dana and Ira Effron.

For more information:

or email:

Miles of Hope Funds Local Programs

The Miles of Hope Breast Cancer announced today the awarding of grants to area non-profit organizations.
“Miles of Hope funds support services, education and outreach to people affected by breast cancer within the 8 counties of the Hudson Valley,” explained Executive Director, Pari Forood. “Aside from our pillar programs which are funded annually, we accept grant applications from local organizations for worthy and appropriate programs.”
Chairman of the Miles of Hope Board of Directors, Lisa Arnoff, added: “We receive many requests to fund excellent programs here in our Hudson Valley benefiting people affected by breast cancer. It is essential that we fund raise with all of our events so that we can meet this need and help as many people as possible.”
Cathy Varunok, Co-Founder of Miles of Hope, explained that in the past 13 years, Miles of Hope has given away over $1.5 million dollars. “Our largest grant expenditure is the Medical Gap Care Fund which helps people in treatment for breast cancer with a financial emergency. We work with 6 social service agencies in 8 counties to make sure that we help anyone in financial distress because of their breast cancer diagnosis.”
The 4 grants awarded this week:
  • A $10,000 grant to Health Quest Systems to help purchase a tomosynthesis machine for advanced 3-D imaging for Vassar Brothers Medical Center
  • A $10,000 grant to Support Connections for the Peer to Peer Hotline manned by trained breast cancer survivors
  • A $2,500 grant to Tennis for Life which offers tennis lessons, organized play, peer networking groups and professionally-facilitated discussion groups to unite and assist breast cancer survivors in their recovery
  • A $1,500 grant to The Women of Faith Health & Wellness Ministry to conduct and support seminars including materials for information and distribution, food, and travel to various destinations.

According to the individual grant applications:

Vassar Brothers Medical Center has plans to purchase two additional state-of-the-art, 3-Dimensional (3D) digital mammography units referred to as “tomosynthesis,” a new technology combining with standard 2D mammography to produce superior images of the breast with much less radiation than standard digital mammography. The combination of the 3D and 2D images results in less time for the patient under compression, greater patient comfort, a lower radiation dose, and exceptional images.”

Support Connections stated: “Trained Counselors answer questions, provide in depth counseling & support, make additional service referrals, help navigate confusing medical systems, listen as long as necessary, and reach out to let women know we are always here. From 1/1/15-11/30/15 (11 months) counselors had 1,658 individual service contacts with clients affected by breast cancer. 685 were in-depth one-on-one counseling sessions. The remaining contacts provided general support, resource information, referrals, program & support group information, follow up calls.”

Tennis for Life support groups meet weekly at Match Point Tennis Club, in Orangeburg, NY (Rockland County) and “provides complimentary tennis lessons and court time for breast cancer survivors, an environment for survivors to share their experiences and feelings in a relaxed social atmosphere and monthly volunteer guest speakers who provide information on relevant health and wellness issues.

The Women of Faith Health & Wellness Ministry’s mission is “to provide community outreach on the issue of breast cancer education to underserved and minority populations.” The grant from Miles of Hope will allow them “to travel to churches within our community to inform women and men of all cultures of the effects of breast cancer, ways to decrease the effects, and the importance of self breast examinations and mammograms.”

“In Dutchess County, breast cancer ranks the highest in incidence among all cancers, at 141.4 per 100,000,” said Miles of Hope Co-Founder, Dana Effron. “We are helping this population with vital programs and support.”

Scholarship Fund Established to Honor Grandmother

Betty Benecke and her grand daughters. Seated l-r: Betty Benecke, Jennifer Benecke. Standing 1st row: Jeannette Howard Driscoll, Madalyn Dolan, Allie Furcick, Katey Varunok, Meghan Furcick, Mikayla Varunok, Heather Benecke, Lisa Minichello Howard. Standing Back row: Danielle Dolan, Jenn Benecke

When Cathy Benecke and Dana Effron started the Miles of Hope Breast Cancer Foundation eleven and a half years ago, they decided to provide services and outreach to people affected by breast cancer within the 8 counties of the Hudson Valley which did not exist: financial help for people in treatment; ancillary therapies like massage, acupuncture, exercise and yoga; a peer to peer hotline for people diagnosed with breast cancer who have questions; and a scholarship program for college-bound high school seniors whose lives have been touched by this disease.

Little did they know that the Foundation would grow to give away over $1.5 million dollars for these programs for their neighbors, friends and colleagues affected by breast cancer. Thousands of people have had their burden lifted by Miles of Hope and thousands have given back in volunteer time, donations and sponsorships of events.

Every year the Miles of Hope Breast Cancer Foundation awards scholarships to local high school seniors in the eight counties of the Hudson Valley whose lives have been affected by breast cancer. All of these students have outstanding academic records and extracurricular activities but what sets them apart is the connection to breast cancer in their young lives.

The scholarship applicant is required to write an essay explaining how breast cancer has affected them. Most write poignant and touching compositions about a parent or other relative, but some talk of volunteering for cancer organizations or watching a friend go through the trauma of a breast cancer diagnosis in their family. The essays are very moving and show a level of maturity well beyond the typical 17 year old.

Two funds had been established since the first scholarships were awarded eleven years ago. The Betty (Benecke) Howard Scholarship Fund was established for college-bound high school seniors planning to pursue a career in the healthcare field. “Our family has been devastated by cancer,” explained Miles of Hope Co-Founder Cathy Benecke Varunok. “My sister, Betty, died after a breast cancer diagnosis when she was in her 30s.” In 2015, Julianna Arico from Arlington High School won the Betty Howard Scholarship awarding her $2000 toward her continuing education.

Mrs. Varunok’s family established a second scholarship fund after her brother, Michael, passed away in 2014. “We want to remember Michael by establishing this scholarship fund in his name to help students with a financial contribution to their education,” she explained. This year, Daniel Rannekleiv from Somers High School won the Michael Benecke Scholarship, awarding him $2000 to attend either Penn State or U Mass.

The Benecke Varunok family has now established a third scholarship fund at Miles of Hope, the Betty Benecke Scholarship Fund for a college-bound high school senior whose life has been affected by breast cancer, pursuing a career in the arts.

“My mother was a brave and kind person who had breast cancer,” Mrs. Varunok explained. “All of her children and grandchildren are honoring her memory with this scholarship fund at Miles of Hope.”

Scholarship recipients throughout the years have finished their education and become doctors, nurses, teachers, business people and parents. Each one helped along by an important monetary contribution but also by the support and encouragement of Miles of Hope.

“By helping these young people who have faced hardship and at times devastation, we feel we are recognizing their bravery and resilience,” said Miles of Hope Executive Director Pari Forood. “Scholarship recipients go on to do great things with their lives and we like to think we may be a small part of their success.”

Cancer patient receives wig made from nurse’s hair

According to an article in the Poughkeepsie Journal, Poughkeepsie resident and breast cancer survivor Kim Ross has been presented with a wig made from hair donated by her nurse Erika Hernandez, who works in the Dyson Breast Center at Vassar Brothers Medical Center.

The wig was crafted by Wigs by Angelline of Poughkeepsie and paid for by Miles of Hope,

Read the article