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By Carolyn Noel

SPRINGFIELD – For the second year in a row the Springfield Team Hope Walk, hosted by the Massachusetts and Rhode Island Chapter of the Huntington’s Disease Society of America (HDSA), will take place virtually on May 22. In years without COVID-19, thousands of families, friends, neighbors and community members would come together to walk, donate and support HDSA. Although this year will be different, there is still money to raise and an important cause to support.

Kinser Cancelmo and Janelle Johnson are both organizers and co-sponsors of the Springfield walk. Cancelmo lost her husband to Huntington’s Disease five years ago and, shortly after, her 15 year old daughter to the juvenile version of the disease. Since then, Cancelmo said she has dedicated her life to bringing awareness to and fighting against Huntington’s Disease.

"I lost one right after the other, within three months of each other and she was only 15 years old. So I have a very strong effort to wipe this disease out in my lifetime,” said Cancelmo.

With the walk being virtual for the past two years, Cancelmo said it has been a struggle to get people to sign up.

“We’re actually struggling this year with getting people to sign up and everything. Just because in the past we’ve held it here at Springfield College, we hold it right here on the track, so it’s easy for people who might be impaired and everything and it’s simply walking around the track for a mile,” she said. “It’s hard with virtual because everybody's doing their own thing.”

Cancelmo said that beginning at 10 a.m. on May 22, event participants can walk on their own, walk with others in their neighborhood, walk at a place like Ashley Reservoir in Holyoke or go wherever they choose. Those who raise over $30 for HDSA will receive a free T-shirt, she said.

“We welcome everybody,” said Cancelmo.

During the virtual event, Cancelmo said she encourages people to get involved and post to their social media.

“We like to see all of the people who do actually take part in it post things on their social media. However they take part, whether they’re walking together with other people, doing it on their own, we like to see the stories on their social media pages,” she said.