Vermont Cancer Charity sets sail for a new season – NECN
A small Vermont charity is rebounding for the start of a busy summer after the coronavirus pandemic limited its ability to reach as many people as usual last year.
“We’re going to be very busy this summer,” predicted Sylvia Oblak, Managing Director of Healing Winds.
The nonprofit uses donations to take cancer patients and their loved ones to Lake Champlain for free to relax and have the chance to live as they did before their diagnosis.
“Even sick people deserve to enjoy their lives,” said Becca Brown McKnight of Burlington, who took a Healing Winds sail in October 2020 with her husband and children.
The business owner, mother of two and now breast cancer survivor, stopped by the pier on Friday to thank the organization for giving her a big boost between chemotherapy appointments.
“Sailing has been a highlight of the whole year,” recalls Brown McKnight. “We were able to kind of leave the cancer on the shore and go out and have some family fun.”
The “Red Hot Chilly Dippers” bathe daily in Lake Champlain to raise funds for Spectrum Youth and Family Services.
Oblak said the outings typically last around two hours.
“Sometimes it’s the last memory they have,” Oblak said. “And sometimes it’s a memory that in 10 years they will look back… and say,” It was an amazing experience with my family and it was really a crucial experience to be able to continue in the fight against cancer.
The organization is now expanding its offerings after learning from last summer, when people with weakened immune systems had to lie very low because of the coronavirus.
The group has opened trips in 2020 to health heroes who were seriously overdue for time off, and plans to continue doing so this season.
“It’s a wonderful mission,” said sailboat captain Kim Ketcham, adding that he considers the appointments for working nurses, hospital room cleaning crews and others to be a great extension of the job. main objective of supporting cancer patients.
“When you hear their schedules, you think to yourself, ‘Oh my god, I can’t believe you don’t take more breaks than that,’ but they can’t – they’re too busy,” Ketcham observed.
In New Hampshire, people on the frontlines of the coronavirus pandemic have the opportunity to relax with therapy horses.
Healing Winds said cleaning practices instituted in 2020 due to the pandemic will remain in place this year, with careful cleanings of seats and other points of contact between guests.
“I’m just grateful to be on the other side of this,” Becca Brown McKnight said, referring to her excellent health now.
The breast cancer survivor told NECN and NBC10 Boston that she is deeply grateful for the dedication Healing Winds has shown to uplifting members of the community.
“Even during the darkest times, there is always joy to be found,” Brown McKnight said.
Click here for more information on the non-profit organization.