Local Foundation Honored for Support of Cancer Survivors

Cathy Varunok and Pari Forood

Cathy Varunok, Co-Founder and Pari Forood, Executive Director, accepted the Spirit of Community Award presented to the Miles of Hope Breast Cancer Foundation

THE MILES OF HOPE BREAST CANCER FOUNDATION, based in Dutchess County but serving all 8 counties of the Hudson Valley, was selected by Support Connection, Inc. (Westchester County), a not-for-profit organization that provides free, confidential services to those affected by breast and ovarian cancer, as a recipient of their 2010 SPIRIT OF COMMUNITY AWARD. Support Connection presented their Spirit Awards during their Thirteenth Annual Gala and Silent Auction, held on April 10, 2010 at Colonial Terrace in Cortlandt Manor, NY. More than 350 people attended to celebrate the honorees who were selected for contributing to the organization’s mission by providing inspiration, time, talent or other resources.

Miles of Hope Breast Cancer Foundation is a non-profit, 501 (c)(3) public charity started in 2004 by Dana Effron and Cathy Varunok, who saw a need for increased services for people with breast cancer in the community. Both women remain actively involved with the Foundation today. In addition to numerous volunteers, they are joined by Pari Forood, who has been the Foundation’s Executive Director since its inception. The mission of the Foundation is to provide funding to non-profit organizations for support services and outreach for people affected by breast cancer in the Hudson Valley, New York (Columbia, Dutchess, Putnam, Westchester, Rockland, and Orange, Ulster and Greene counties). The Foundation holds numerous events and fundraising activities throughout the year to accomplish their goals, and they provide grants, scholarships, and other funds to support their mission. To learn more, visit

Miles of Hope was presented with Support Connection’s Spirit of Community Award because they have given grant funding to support the group’s services for women with breast cancer every year since 2004. The Support Connection programs funded by Miles of Hope have included community outreach, support groups, wellness classes and most significantly, Peer-to-Peer Counseling. Peer Counselors are women who have experienced cancer and are trained to offer support, assistance and education to other women with cancer, their families and friends. As a result of continued support from the Miles of Hope Breast Cancer Foundation, Support Connection’s Peer Counseling program has been able to meet the growing need for this essential service. Support Connection’s most recent funding from Miles of Hope was a $10,000 grant received in January 2010.

SUPPORT CONNECTION, INC. is a 501 (C) (3) not-for-profit organization that provides free, confidential support services and programs to people affected by breast and ovarian cancer. Founded in 1996, Support Connection is based in Yorktown Heights, N.Y., but through their toll-free hotline (funded by Miles of Hope) and website they serve people throughout the country.

Honorees (L-R): FRONT ROW: Andrea Karl and Robin Perlmutter (Spirit of Hope Awards: Support Connection Peer Counselors); Pari Forood (Spirit of Community Award: Executive Director, Miles of Hope Breast Cancer Foundation); Nancy Lee (Spirit of Community Award: Board Member, Beth C. Tortolani Foundation): Robin Murphy (Humanitarian of the Year Award: Maid Brigade); Tina Coyle (Spirit of Hope Award: Support Connection Peer Counselor) BACK ROW: Cathy Varunok (Spirit of Community Award: Co-Founder, Miles of Hope Breast Cancer Foundation); Amy Sayegh (Maria Rubino Jennings Spirit of Caring Award: Founder & Director, Putnam Community Cares); Douglas Dill (Spirit of Giving Award); Gary Murphy (Humanitarian of the Year Award: Maid Brigade)