The annual walk to support Stewart’s Caring Place has been transformed

Leslie Bill Angels 321
This year, Stewart’s Caring Place is partnering with area park systems, including Summit Metro Parks, Medina County Park District and Downtown Akron Partnership.

By Laura Briedis

A signature event for Stewart’s Caring Place, the 15th Annual Hope Walk has a new twist this year as they are encouraging you to take a hike.

“Though we cannot yet gather in a large group to show support for families touched by cancer, we can individually, or in small groups, still make an impact—and have fun doing it,” says Executive Director Jeannine Marks. “When you take a hike, you’ll be raising money to help those who are touched by cancer.”

This year, the nonprofit is partnering with area park systems, including Summit Metro Parks, Medina County Park District and Downtown Akron Partnership. Registrants are encouraged to get out into nature and enjoy a walk on their favorite trail or visit somewhere new throughout the weeklong event.

Instead of a one-day event, the format was changed to a weeklong event running from Sunday, May 2, through Saturday, May 8.

“This makes it more convenient for more people to participate,” says Colleen Iacianci, director of development. “You can choose a short stroll on a paved trail or a more challenging hike, as you are not obligated to walk a certain distance. We have participants walking with their dogs, pulling a wagon with their children or slowly strolling about with grandparents.”

Dr. Joseph Blanda
Serving as this year’s Hope Walk honorary chair, Dr. Joseph Blanda is passionate about helping those with cancer and embracing nature. His son, Joe, was diagnosed with an incurable form of brain cancer at age 17 and passed away two years later. Dr. Blanda and his wife, Dr. Michelle Blanda, helped Joe start Blast Glioblastoma to raise dollars for brain tumor research. Nature helps Blanda deal with loss and through his website and social media, he shares resources and ideas to encourage people to get closer to nature.

You can join him and hundreds of others who will be participating in this year’s Hope Walk. You can walk as an individual or form a team. And you don’t even have to live in Ohio, as last year there were participants from Indiana, North Carolina and California who walked in honor of family or friend.

“We are looking forward to growing this fundraising event, as we are now serving 18 counties throughout Ohio and helping more families on their cancer journey,” says Jeannine. “The money we raise goes toward supporting the more than 150 programs and services we offer at no cost for individuals and families affected by cancer.”

Plans are underway to add some activities, including a selfie scavenger hunt and other pop-up events at the parks.

Hope Walk Takes a Hike
• Date: Sunday, May 2-Saturday, May 8
• Location: At a park or walking trail near you.
• Event Details: Get out into nature and enjoy a walk on your favorite trail or visit somewhere new and build camaraderie through a fun selfie-style competition. You can walk as an individual or sign up a team to help raise money to support programs at Stewart’s Caring Place, which supports families affected by cancer.
• Cost: $20, which includes a Hope Walk Tie Dye T-Shirt Kit.
• Registration: Sign up online at If you have any questions, please email or call 330-836-1772.

Stewart’s Caring Place is a registered 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. The center is located at 3501 Ridge Park Drive in Fairlawn. For more information, call 330-836-1772. Check out for a comprehensive list of programs and services.