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Second annual Walk to Remember a Loved One on tap for Saturday

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POTSDAM - The Potsdam High School will be the site of many activities Saturday as part of the second annual Joanne’s Gift of Love Walk to Remember a Loved One.

The walk will begin at 10 a.m. on the school’s track, and various festivities will follow during the afternoon.

The walk/run is a non-competitive event coordinated by the Joanne’s Gift of Love program in an effort to raise money and keep the memory of lost loved ones alive.

“The program puts together gift baskets for patients that may be getting chemotherapy in St. Lawrence County,” event coordinator Tessa Fields said.

“The event is held annually in memory of people that we’ve lost. Everyone has someone they can walk or run to remember – a parent, sibling or even a pet,” program co-founder Susan Barrett added. “Joanne’s Gift of Love has donated about 30 gift bags to individuals and patients at Canton-Potsdam Hospital in the cancer treatment center and for individuals undergoing chemotherapy. We also have a scholarship that we have awarded to a student at Norwood-Norfolk Central School and Potsdam Central School. This is the second year doing that.”

Ms. Fields and Ms. Barrett are both family members of the late Joanne Bigwarfe, a Potsdam resident who passed away from bone cancer in 2013. Ms. Bigwarfe was a 1986 graduate of Potsdam High School and was a principal at Norwood-Norfolk Central Elementary School at the time of her death. She had previously worked at Parishville-Hopkinton Central School.

During the main event, there will also be a vendor fair in the school’s gymnasium with all proceeds going to the Potsdam Neighborhood Center.

Additionally, the program does an annual American Red Cross blood drive during the spring and helps with many other fundraisers.

“There is a vendor fair from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. We have about 28 vendors that have replied – various local businesses that do a wide range of things,” Ms. Barrett said. “We’ve donated to local children’s youth groups, and we will also be donating to Parishville-Hopkinton (Central School) for their new playground.”

Each registered participant for Saturday’s Walk to Remember a Loved One will receive plenty of refreshments and will have opportunities for prizes.

Those who garner $25 in sponsors will receive an event t-shirt. Those who bring in $50 will get the t-shirt as well as a cinch sac. If you get $75 in sponsorships, you will receive the t-shirt, cinch sac and a Roxy Movie Theater gift certificate.

The prize for the person with the most sponsorships and who brings in the most donation money will get either an Apple iPod or $150.

On top of the walk/run and the vendor fair, the organization also plans to have a bounce house and face-painting at the event.

Ms. Fields and Ms. Barrett are anticipating another success this weekend.

“The turnout was very good last year. We’ve done a lot more publicity this year and expect a lot more. We had a lot of vendors last year but have even more this year. We’re hoping to see some more people turnout with the more central location at the Potsdam school,” Ms. Fields said.

“We had a great turnout last year. The vendor fair raised just under $400 that we donated to K-Kids – a youth organization through the Kiwanis Club. The walk/run raised about $3,200. With donations and events that people hold for our organization, we are able to prepare the gift bags,” Ms. Barrett added. “Our goal this year is $5,000. Last year we set a goal for $1,000 and we surpassed that.”

Those with questions are asked to call Ms. Fields at 244-2544.

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