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Hope On Main Street Celebrates Cancer Survivors, Caregivers



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Several dozen cancer survivors braved the threat of rain and were joined by supporters, caregivers, and even a bagpiper who made his way to Newtown all the way from New Jersey to help put a spring into the steps of those taking a brief walk down Main Street to draw attention to neighbors who are fighting or who have been lost to cancer.

The event, dubbed “Hope On Main Street,” sprang from and still involves a number of Newtown’s former Relay for Life volunteers. It has been organized by long-time Relay volunteers Gayle DiBenedetto and Chris Farrington, and has been held annually since 2019 with a brief pause during the height of the COVID pandemic.

Similar to the Relay, albeit in a much smaller, intimate setting, Hope On Main Street still combines awareness and fund raising for research, outreach, and services provided by the American Cancer Society; recognition of cancer survivors; honoring those who have lost the battle; the lighting of commemorative luminaries; and paying tribute to caregivers.

While a thunder storm passed through just before start time September 9, possibly deterring some aspiring participants, organizers mustered on under a few pop-up tents stationed in front of C.H. Booth Library.

After a brief speaking program, Peter Monaghan of Bagpipes by Peter Piper from Westwood, N.J., led the official luminaria walk before participants returned for refreshments and raffles.

Anyone interested in getting involved can connect with Hope On Main through the group’s Facebook site: facebook.com/hopeonmainstreet.newtown .

Cancer survivor Alissa Heizler-Mendoza served as featured speaker, addressing the attendees at the 2023 Hope On Main Street event, September 9, in front of C.H. Booth Library. The event, which sprung from and is organized by former Newtown Relay for Life volunteers, in part, honored local cancer survivors and caregivers. —Bee Photos, Glass
Event co-founder Christopher Farrington (pictured separately) joined speaker Alissa Heizler-Mendoza, left, and Gayle DiBenedetto, co-founder and chairperson of Hope On Main Street, welcoming guests to their September 9 event. A huge luminaria bag served as a prop, resembling dozens of similar and smaller illuminated bags placed along the route of a brief walk up and down Main Street.
Bagpiper Peter Monaghan of Bagpipes by Peter Piper from Westwood, NJ, led the official luminaria walk .
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