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Day of Hope focuses fundraising efforts online for Mission Hope Cancer Center

Posted at 6:10 AM, Aug 26, 2020
and last updated 2020-08-26 12:24:22-04

Like so many things this year, the 7th annual Day of Hope fundraiser will be different in 2020.

However, the need the support local cancer patients continues despite the COVID-19 pandemic.

The tradition of peddling special edition Santa Maria Times newspapers is on hold for the 2020 Day of Hope.

Last year, nearly 600 volunteers sold papers across the Santa Maria and Santa Ynez Valleys to support Marian Regional Medical Center's Mission Hope Cancer Center.

In the era of COVID-19, the fundraiser is moving mostly online.

Mission Hope is also adjusting how it cares for patients.

John Malinowski is a cancer exercise trainer at the Marian Health & Wellness Center, helping patients regain and build strength throughout their cancer journeys.

"Cancer really depletes your pocketbook. There are so many people that are financially strapped because of the cancer treatment," Malinowski told KSBY back in early March before anyone knew what an economically challenged year was ahead of us.

We checked back in with him this August to see how the pandemic had impacted the Wellness Center.

"As of March 14th, we closed down. There were no classes," Malinowski said.

The closure was a disappointing set-back for patients who were not allowed to exercise at the Wellness Center.

However, in July, Malinowski was able to resume his Cancer Rehabilitation Program. It's one of Mission Hope's numerous cancer support programs that are funded by Day of Hope donations.

"Through masks, I could see kind of smiles on people's faces to be here doing something because it's very empowering for the patients," he said.

Before coming into the Wellness Center, everyone is screened for COVID-19 symptoms, given a pump of hand sanitizer and masks are required.

With compromised immune systems of cancer patients in mind, frequent and thorough sanitation is a top priority.

Malinowski has made changes to his Cancer Rehab Program, too.

"We have restricted the number of participants in the class to a maximum of eight," he said.

Chairs are spaced out and patients do not share equipment.

They are small changes three-time cancer survivor Joyce Chrisman says she is happy to make.

"I need to get back into life so by coming to exercise class it helps me bring back those muscles that six months of chemo, radiation deteriorates," Chrisman said.

Chrisman says moving her muscles strengthens not only her physical health but also supports her social and emotional wellness.

"Mission Hope takes care of the whole [person], inside and outside."

It's a sentiment we heard from Mission Hope patients like Connie Glenn-Wemple long before coronavirus upended our world.

"Every step of the way, not one bit of it was fun but it was all bearable because of these wonderful people," Glenn-Wemple said.

Now, patients past and present, hope the community steps up to support the life-saving work of Mission Hope Cancer Center.

Day of Hope was originally scheduled in April but was postponed to Aug. 26 due to the pandemic.

Donations may be made online or in-person. Online donors will receive an e-edition of the Day of Hope Santa Maria Times newspaper. Or, donors can visit Mission Hope Cancer Center in Santa Maria to give a monetary gift in-person and receive a hard-copy paper.