2016 Family Fun Run Co-Honoree Marie Cole Speaks at Miles of Hope Event

2016 Family Fun Run Co-Honoree Marie Cole from Wappingers Falls, with her husband, Dave, IBM colleagues (where she has worked for 32 years), teammates from her women’s ice hockey team (Westchester Wildcats), teammates from her Poughkeepsie FISH master’s swim team, and her friends from music and other activities. 

Marie spoke at the Miles of Hope Event on Saturday: “It lifted my spirits and made such a difference during treatment to be surrounded by these wonderful friends from all facets of my life and have their support throughout.  Going through cancer treatment helps you realize that it’s the people in your life who truly matter and we strive to share the good times and support each other through the bad times in life’s journey. Thank you Miles of Hope for honoring me and for helping all those affected by breast cancer in our beautiful Hudson Valley.”

Miles of Hope Awards Scholarships to Dutchess, Ulster, Orange and Westchester Students

Miles of Hope, the Hudson Valley’s only local breast cancer foundation, announced today the awarding of scholarships in 4 counties, to high school seniors whose lives have been affected by breast cancer.

“High school seniors in Dutchess, Ulster, Orange and Westchester Counties received scholarships for college,” explained Executive Director Pari Forood.
“Their academic performance, extracurricular activities and breast cancer volunteer activities are exemplary. Plus their essays showed us how their lives were affected by breast cancer sometimes in heartbreaking ways with the loss of a loved one,” she continued.
Miles of Hope Scholarships:
  • General Scholarship: Scholarship awarded to students affected by breast cancer.
  • Betty Benecke Memorial Scholarship: Students meeting the Miles of Hope scholarship criteria and pursuing a career in the arts. 
  • Betty Howard Memorial Scholarship: Students meeting the Miles of Hope scholarship criteria and who plan to pursue a healthcare related field of study.
  • Michael Benecke Memorial Scholarship: Students meeting the Miles of Hope scholarship criteria and reflect Michael’s values of the importance of higher education and social justice.
“My family has endowed these 3 scholarships in memory of my mother, Betty Benecke; my sister, Betty Howard; and my brother, Michael Benecke,” said Cathy Varunok, Co-Founder of Miles of Hope. “My sister and mother both had breast cancer and they are the reason for starting Miles of Hope with Co-Founder Dana Effron. Everytime we help a student who has been touched by this disease, I think of my family and how proud they would be to know that we are making a difference in young lives.”
The Scholarships will be awarded at the Foundation’s Annual Spring Brunch on May 1, at the Grandview in Poughkeepsie.

MoH Scholarship Awardees

Miles of Hope Announces IBM Groundbreaking Presentation at Annual Event

Founders and EDThe Miles of Hope Breast Cancer Foundation announced today that on May 1, at the Foundation’s annual Spring Brunch in Poughkeepsie, IBM will present groundbreaking innovations for treating breast cancer with Watson Health.

Nicknamed Watson for Oncology, the cloud-based cognitive computing platform developed by IBM, provides personalized, evidence-based treatment recommendations by analyzing a patient’s data, such as genetics, lifestyle and hospital scans.

According to hospital officials in published articles and reports, it takes Watson Health less than a minute to sift through large volumes of patient information, medical research and worldwide medical guidelines and provide a report detailing individualized treatment options.

According to one health care administrator, “in the future, breast cancer won’t be breast cancer. It will be a series of molecular cancers that occur in the breast — same with colorectal cancer. Treatment will be based on the molecular genetics of the cancer rather than the histology of the cancer.”

“Targeted therapies, molecular therapies and chain therapies will come along and keeping track will be increasingly difficult. Watson Health provides us a way to be virtually and instantaneously up-to-date.”

From an article in Wired: “According to Sloan-Kettering, only around 20% of the knowledge that human doctors use when diagnosing patients and deciding on treatments relies on trial-based evidence. It would take at least 160 hours of reading a week just to keep up with new medical knowledge as it’s published, let alone consider its relevance or apply it practically. Watson’s ability to absorb this information faster than any human should, in theory, fix a flaw in the current healthcare model.”

Pari Forood, Executive Director of the Miles of Hope Breast Cancer Foundation said: “In a nutshell, Watson Health gathers patient data and compares these against known cases. It then provides a report detailing options for individualized treatments. This system hopes to fill ‘skill gaps’ across healthcare and other industries thus revolutionizing breast cancer treatment.”

She continued: “We are thrilled that IBM has chosen the Miles of Hope event to present this game-changing innovation to the Hudson Valley, its home for so many years. We fund support services for people affected by breast cancer within the 8 counties of the Hudson Valley but if Watson Health puts us out of business, we are ok with that!”

Major sponsors of the event include: Health Quest, James J. McCann Charitable Trust, Arnoff Moving and Storage, Premier Medical Group, Hudson Cadillac/Buick/GMC, 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 Meadowns, NY Design Center, Dana and Ira Effron. 

Photo attachment (L-R): Miles of Hope Co-Founder Cathy Varunok, Executive Director Pari Forood, Co-Founder Dana Effron

For more information:

Miles of Hope – 845-264-2005 or

Run Raises Money/Awareness for Breast Cancer Programs

DSC_0395MilesOfHope5K2011ByBobKopacThe 13th Annual Family 5K Fun Run benefiting the Miles of Hope Breast Cancer Foundation will be held Saturday, April 23, at Tymor Park in Union Vale. (photo of breast cancer survivor Lynne Kopac and supporters attached)
“All are welcome to run for time or run for the first time!” said Event organizer and chairman Lori Decker, local community activist, athletic trainer and co-owner of Forza Fitness in Millbrook.
“This event which I started for my clients has blossomed into a wonderful event for beginners, seasoned runners running to qualify for bigger races, and kids. Everyone should feel comfortable running and welcoming Spring on April 23, at beautiful Tymor Park!” she said.
Miles of Hope Executive Director, Pari Forood added: “The Family Fun Run has raised over $200,000 for Miles of Hope programs since its inception 13 years ago. We are indebted to Lori Decker who has run this event from the beginning for all of her hard work and enthusiasm. She can convince anyone to run! And as a marathon runner herself, she knows the benefits of staying in shape to reduce cancer risk.”
Miles of Hope, a 501-c-3, public charity, funds support services for people affected by breast cancer within the 8 counties of the Hudson Valley.
“We are the only local breast cancer foundation funding programs in the 8 counties: scholarships for high school seniors whose lives have been affected by breast cancer; complementary medicine programs at area hospitals; a Peer to Peer hotline with trained survivors ready to answer questions; and a fund for financial emergencies for people in treatment for breast cancer,” explained Miles of Hope co-Founder Cathy Varunok.
The Family Fun Run honors two Hudson Valley women and breast cancer survivors: Marie Cole and Barbara Bennett. For more information on them:
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Miles of Hope Brunch Honors Minority Activists

On May 1, at the Grandview in Poughkeepsie, the Miles of Hope Breast Cancer Foundation will honor two breast cancer survivors (photos below left to right: Patty Nelson, Nettie Womack) who have taken it upon themselves to educate minority groups on breast cancer prevention and risk reduction.

f640593a-820a-4ef6-8a71-5b8c024bc576Nettie Womack and Patty Nelson, sisters, breast cancer survivors, and activists in their African American community, reach out to this minority population at church and social gatherings organized through their Women of Faith Health and Wellness Ministry.

“A new report from the American Cancer Society finds that breast cancer rates among African American women in the United States are increasing. For decades, African-American women had been getting breast cancer at a slower rate than white women, but that gap is now closing,” explained Miles of Hope Executive Director, Pari Forood.

“Breast cancer is the most common cancer among women in the United States, after skin cancer. It accounts for nearly 1 in 3 cancers diagnosed in women. By the end of 2015, an estimated 231,840 women were diagnosed with invasive breast cancer and an estimated 40,290 women died from that disease,” Ms. Forood said.NettieWomack

Co-Founder of Miles of Hope Cathy Varunok continued: “Even though black women have historically had lower incidence rates than white women, death rates among black women have been higher. In fact, the black-white disparity in breast cancer death rates has increased over time; by 2014, death rates were 42% higher in black women than white women.”

Miles of Hope Board of Directors Chairman, Lisa Arnoff, praised the Foundation’s efforts to reach out to the African American community: “It is so important that we spread the knowledge of prevention and risk reduction to this population. Nettie and Patty have taken it upon themselves to organize breakfasts and teas at area churches, and talk personally and compassionately about their treatment and recovery. They are selfless and generous and deserve all the praise we can give them!”

“One of our major priorities at Miles of Hope has always been to initiate and fund programs to educate minority populations on breast cancer prevention. Nettie and Patty have been doing this for a few years and when we connected with them, we immediately offered our organizational and funding support,” added Ms. Forood.

Miles of Hope Breast Cancer Foundation is a non-profit public charity with a mission to fund support services for people affected by breast cancer within the 8 counties of the Hudson Valley. All funds raised regionally are expended on services and support for Hudson Valley residents.