The Village Walk for Cancer Research (WFCR) started in 2002 as the Midge Bates Walk. When Midge was diagnosed with breast cancer, several of her friends (Shirley Engquist, Jan Farnsworth and Kate Williamson) decided to have a walk in her honor to raise her spirits and to promote awareness for breast cancer research at the Arkansas Research Center (now the Winthrop P. Rockefeller Cancer Institute at UAMS). In 2004, the walk was renamed the Village Walk for Cancer Research. In 2005, Claire MacNeill became involved. That year with collaboration from the POA Trails Committee a “Spirit Walk” was held. Participants walked their choice of six trails and raised an estimated $2,000. In 2010, local Altrusa chapter members stepped up and under Claire's leadership planned and executed the annual Walk event for several years. In 2012, Claire passed the Village Walk event chair role to Melanie Pederson, a breast cancer survivor, who remained the event chair until 2020.
In 2005, there were less than 100 participants and all were walkers. By 2021, nearly 400 people participated by walking, kayaking or biking.
The Walk as we know it today was first held at Cortez Pavilion. It was held there for many years until two things happened. First, we began to outgrow the Cortez Pavilion and needed a bigger space. Second, the Balboa Trail was completed. This is when we moved the Walk to the Balboa Pavilion.
Walk Facts & Figures
In Honor of & In Memory of
Each year we select two people to recognize at the Walk: a person who is a cancer survivor and someone who recently lost their life to cancer. Cancer survivors wear a colored shirt at the Walk, and everyone else wears a white shirt. The color represents a specific type of cancer, and each year we choose a specific cancer to highlight. person who is a cancer survivor and honor the memory of a person who lost their life to cancer. Claire continued to chair the WFCR until 2011.
The WFCR Today
The Village Walk for Cancer Research (WFCR) began as a small group of women walking to honor a friend with cancer. It has evolved from its grassroots origin and a single volunteer-led annual event to an official nonprofit charitable (still volunteer-led) organization hosting multiple fundraising events each year. In 2021 the decision was made to become our own 501c3 nonprofit charitable organization. This was completed and the September 2021 walk was the first one held by the Village Walk for Cancer Research, Inc. A small board of directors was formed and is responsible for ensuring the mission and vision remain the primary focus while exploring ways to grow.
Our first objective has been achieved. We established the "Village Walk for Cancer Research" endowment fund with the Hot Springs Village Community Foundation to ensure money will be available for cancer research in perpetuity.
Second, we held our first event to recognize and disburse funds raised in 2021 to selected cancer research and special projects. This occurred in March 2022.
Our Mission – To support cancer research and cancer-related projects in our community.
Our Vision – To find cures and methods for cancer detection and prevention through research.
Our Goal – To grow the amount we raise and the number of participants every year.
The Mission Continues
There have been many advances in medicine resulting from research, and yet cancer remains a leading cause of death. Cancer doesn't discriminate. It can occur regardless of your age, gender or race. As a result, we all know someone who has been touched by cancer.
Research has found better ways to detect cancer earlier, which increases survival rates. Research has provided us with more (and better) treatment options and is looking at ways to prevent certain cancers. The Walk for Cancer Research is one of the largest fund-raising events of its kind the Village, having raised $756,000 dollars for cancer research since 2005. We will continue to fight cancer, one cancer at a time.
The Village Walk for Cancer Research is a 501c-3 non-profit organization, federal tax ID 82-5377663.
The Village Walk for Cancer Research recently established an endowment with the Hot Springs Village Community Foundation. The endowment funds are managed by a sophisticated group of financial advisors associated with the Arkansas Community Foundation. This endowment will earn income each year and 4% of that income will become available for use by the VWCR to further the goal of cancer research and other related projects in our community. An endowment, unlike most savings accounts, will exist in perpetuity as will the earnings from it.