By Taariq Adams
Baltimore Watchdog Staff Writer
COCKEYSVILLE, Md. – The Greater Baltimore Medical Center hosted the 17th Legacy Chase Saturday at Shawan Downs to raise cancer awareness, highlight valiant efforts of cancer patients who battled illnesses and to gather contributions, donations and gifts to support its oncology services.
John Chessare, president and CEO of GBMC HealthCare System, said the goal is to achieve the company’s vision to be the community-based healthcare system that treats every patient, every time, giving them the best of care.
“At GBMC, we are building a true system of care that the patient would experience,” Chessare said. “You may know that the USA spends 40 percent more per capita in healthcare than any other country in the world. We have the best doctors and nurses but they’re often working in a broken system, so our biggest challenge is to try to create a system that the patient can experience” with topnotch care.
Chase sponsors declared this event as the largest both in size and impact. However, donation amounts were not announced.
With scorching 80-degree temperatures, more than 10,000 community residents, patrons, sponsors, staff and others scattered throughout the scenic farm acres near Hunt Valley in Baltimore County. This year’s theme was “Hats, Horses and Hope.” Many of the children dressed in their favorite superhero costumes as a reminder that the fight against cancer is everyone’s battle.
“It takes a community to really deliver outstanding care from start to finish,” Chessare said. “We’re also very happy whenever anyone gives us a financial donation no matter how small.”
Hinting that the dollar donations may exceed previous years, he said sponsors included Brown Advisory, Sodexo, Procare and Kaiser Permanente. The event culminates a year-long fundraising effort for the Sandra and Malcolm Berman Cancer Institute, he said.
“It’s really nice,” said Charlie Soper, a first-time patron who attended with his wife and daughter. “The facilities are great. There’s a lot of stuff for kids and adults to do and it’s just a nice area and day to be in.”
The Sopers said they came, hoping to have a good time and to do their part in helping cancer survivors.
“It’s not necessarily always enough to just change your picture on Facebook to whatever,” Soper said. “You really do need to go out and do stuff for these things once in a while.”
Tons of food were available and dozens of activities attracted enthusiastic participants. There was a Cancer Survivorship Reunion and annual horse races along with prizes for those who bet on a winning horse. In addition, children were given the opportunity to take part in the popular stick-pony races.
“I heard that people had to live with cancer and the various things they had to go through,” said Jennifer Shepherd, who traveled from Canada. “You have to go through the physical issues and of course the monetary issues and the pressure on any family, so I think it’s great when you raise awareness for what people have to go through.”
Shepherd said the Terry Fox Run was an event she favored because it’s a marathon that raises cancer awareness. She said that efforts to raise awareness are paying off as evidenced by improvements in cancer patient treatments.
“My dad just got successfully cleared from prostate cancer, so you can tell things are getting a lot better as the research continued,” she said. “It’s wonderful that they’re raising money for that.”
Charlie Fenwick, executive director of Shawan Downs, organized the horse races to ensure smooth operations at the events. Besides contributing money, he said support can come in a variety of ways.
Brenda Newman of LulaRoe, a local leggings company, suggested more practical means, such as volunteers treating children of cancer victims to meals outside the home or helping prepare dinner at the family home. Such efforts should encourage families battling cancer to “keep fighting and keep a positive attitude,” she said, adding “ ‘positivity’ is the best medicine.”