YORKTOWN, N.Y. -- When Dawn Barrett laces up her sneakers for the first annual Northwell Health Walk at Westchester this May, she's doing so with an incredibly personal connection.
"I was diagnosed with breast cancer and treated at Northern Westchester Hospital (NWH) in 2012," said Barrett, a member of the hospital's Cancer Patient Advisory Council and a key organizer of the walk. "This event is near and dear to my heart because I’m passionate about the cancer programs at NWH and how they helped me get through a difficult time in my life."
The two-mile family walk will take place at Franklin D. Roosevelt State Park in Yorktown on Sunday, May 21, and will be co-hosted by Northern Westchester Hospital and Phelps Hospital, both members of Northwell Health in Westchester County. Designed for all ages, the walk is wheelchair, stroller and pet friendly. On walk day, NWH will also host a wellness fair and offer fun activities for all participants. Hospital clinicians will provide screenings and demos, healthy eating tips, aromatherapy, hand massages, body mass index and blood pressure testing and more. Best of all, all funds raised during the walk will go directly to support the community hospitals.
"All money raised at the walk will stay in Westchester County," said Whitney Wasserman, development manager at the NWH Foundation and an event organizer. NWH and Phelps are joining existing walks that are flagship events for Northwell Health. On the same day there will be other Northwell walks at Jones Beach, on the East End of LI and Staten Island. All of the funds raised from those walks are staying in the communities where the walks take place. "The tagline of the walks is ‘Four Walks, One Cause.’" said Wasserman. "We are truly coming together to make a difference for our family, friends and the healthcare of our community." The funds donated to Northern Westchester Hospital will go directly to the Bruce and Andrea Yablon Cancer Health and Wellness Program at NWH, which provides free services to cancer patients during and after treatment.
As a cancer survivor, Barrett is especially grateful for the services the program provided while she was fighting the disease as well as transitioning back to her daily life. "When I was receiving treatment, I used the integrative medicine services offered," she said. "I took part in everything that was offered to help me feel better. As a survivor, I’m still able to use these wonderful, healing services."
Events like the Northwell Health Walk at Westchester are equally important for hospital doctors and staff, as they help connect medical staff with local residents in a non-emergency setting. "We work within the community to maintain wellness, so it’s important for us to connect with the community," said Jeanne Spano, a physical therapist and member of NWH's Employee Congress. "To have camaraderie between families in our community and hospital staff is imperative to wellness. Our goal is to keep everyone in the community healthy.”
For Barrett and hundreds of other participants, this inaugural walk will be special. "I have done many community walks and they’re all inspiring in their own way," said Barrett. "However, the proceeds from this walk are going to further a program that was so personally beneficial for me as a patient – that’s exciting!”
The Northwell Health Walk at Westchester will be held from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Sunday, May 21 at Franklin D. Roosevelt State Park in Yorktown. Walkers can participate solo, join an existing team or create their own. For more information, click here.