On Saturday, May 18, more than 1000 people from around the San Francisco Bay Area participated in the Cancer Support Community’s 2024 Hope Walk and Community Fair. This was the organization’s tenth annual event, and it was a record breaking year for fundraising. The Walk pulled in a whopping $270,000 (and growing) to “support free programs for cancer patients and their families.” Kudos to the Cancer Support Community staff and volunteers for all their work to make this a seamless event. Much gratitude to all the cancer patients, family members and supporters who made the Hope Walk such a success. You did it!

2024 Hope Walk
Quiltlove at the 2024 Hope Walk | Photo Credit: BlueGoo

Highs, Lows and Surprises

I’m no stranger to cancer / disease support events. My first internship was working for the Avon Walk for Breast Cancer in New York City. In college, I was part of the crew on a bike ride across Europe that raised money for AIDS research. I’ve spent many days cheering on walkers at events like Making Strides and the 3-Day, in addition to having participated in the Hope Walk in past years. And yet, with every event I find unexpected highs, lows and surprises. Here are a few of my takeaways from the 2024 Hope Walk.

The Highs

In no particular order, some of my favorite parts of the Hope Walk were:

  • The amazing community of vendors who provide free, heartfelt, quality services to people facing cancer. Even though Quiltlove operates in a space adjacent to support services, I had no idea of all the local resources available. For example, my immediate neighbors in the vendor area included Casting for Recovery, Women’s Cancer Resource Community, Pink Ribbon Good and Meals on Wheels to name a few.
  • How easy it is to talk to strangers at these events. I’m not normally one to strike up a conversation with the person standing next to me in line, at the store, at a park, etc. And yet, at events like the Hope Walk, I find myself chatting it up. The instant community of people who turn up for shared causes is truly special.
  • The fun outfits. Perhaps due to the devastating impact of a cancer diagnosis, support events bring out people’s sense of humor. Often, this is in the form of a wacky hat, an outlandish tutu, or loads of flair. It never gets old to me. I love seeing people dress to impress at these events. Maybe that’s one of the reasons it is so easy to chat with strangers. There is always something to talk about and nobody is too cool for school.
  • The record-breaking fundraising results!
  • Seeing friends from past years again — including a beloved oncology Nurse Navigator friend who helped organize the Breast Cancer Support quilt I made for Alta Bates. Also present, my friend who is part of the architectural team for the Cancer Support Community’s new space!
  • The sweetest pup from Joybound (formerly ARF), who was such a good sport throughout the whole event (and a very nice neighbor).
Joybound Mascot at the 2024 Hope Walk | Photo Credit: BlueGoo

The Lows

The Hope Walk is always a spirited and fun event. The weather was 70 and sunny on Saturday. The DJ was playing the hits. People had a bounce to their step, while waiting for the walk to kick off. And yet, when I scanned the crowd I was instantly reminded that every single person present was there because either they, or their loved one, has faced cancer. It’s a dreaded club that nobody wanted to be a part of. Every year nearly 2 million Americans are diagnosed with cancer. This sobering low was an undercurrent to the day, surfacing at unexpected times, catching me off guard.

The Surprises

I was overjoyed — and surprised — when the winner of the first quilt I ever donated to the Cancer Support Community introduced herself to me! She is a brain cancer survivor and has been a dedicated CSC volunteer for years. In 2021, she won my donated quilt. We never communicated directly however, as all correspondence was handled through a point of contact at the Cancer Support Community. I was so moved when she found me, introduced herself and expressed her gratitude. Without exaggeration, it brought a tear to my eye!

Other surprises included the amazing snack plates donated to the walkers (charcuterie on the go!), hearing Boot Scootin’ Boogie for the first time since the early 90s, and oh — did I mention the record breaking fundraising tally?

Photo Credit: BlueGoo

All in all, it was a terrific event and one that I hope to return to for many years. Have you attended a Hope Walk or other cancer support walk in your community recently? I would love to hear about your highs, lows and surprises, so drop me a line!

As always, thanks for reading.


My husband and children displaying a sample cancer support quilt | Photo credit: BlueGoo

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