2019 Blesie Tree Walk
Spirits were high despite a misty rain as friends and family gathered at Noelridge Park for the 7th Annual Blesie Tree Walk. The walk raises funds for the Blesie Tree Foundation, which ‘pays kindness forward’ by helping patients undergoing treatment with everyday needs like gas, rides and meals.
We heard comments from Amy Blesie, whose generosity in the days after her husband passed away from cancer led to the creation of the Foundation. Russ Fagle, a patient of The Ghosh Center, moved us with his story as well.
Russ’s connection to The Ghosh Center runs deep. He first met Dr. Ghosh in 1996 when he was a new cancer patient. After his successful treatment, and as a young graphic artist, Russ created artwork and patient materials both for the treatment center Dr. Ghosh headed at the time, and for The Ghosh Center as it came into being. He also created the logo and other materials for the first Blesie Tree walk.
In the spring of 2019, Russ was diagnosed with melanoma and again, he sought the care and guidance of Dr. Ghosh and his staff. He had two surgeries in the spring and began year-long immunotherapy treatments in Iowa City. As a self-employed graphic designer, time spent receiving treatments and recovering from surgery meant time not working.
“Being self-employed has been very rewarding but it is a challenge when you don’t have paid time off and you have a cancer diagnosis,” Russ said. To his surprise, after meeting with LaNette and Becki at The Ghosh Center about his treatment plan and health status, he received a letter from the Blesie Tree Foundation stating that his July rent had been paid.
“It was an overwhelming experience of gratitude and the kindness of other people helping when I had not even asked for it. It did indeed help me focus on healing and getting past that challenging time in my treatment process,” Russ said. “Being involved with the Blesie Tree Foundation from its inception made me realize that I had gone full circle in this process and had become one of its beneficiaries. I continue to be a grateful supporter.”
Russ is currently considered cancer-free, and the treatments are going well.
Amy began her speech with a quote from Mary Davis that she feels encompasses what the Blesie Tree work is all about: ”We can’t heal the world today, but we can begin with a voice of compassion, a heart of love, and an act of kindness.”
Amy has felt a great sense of fulfillment and joy because of the continuing impact of her family’s gift to the Blesie Tree Foundation. She shared some of the many benefits people experience when they are ‘givers’:
Random acts of kindness create the single most reliable momentary increase in well-being of any exercise that you can do.
The hormone that is released in your body when you do a kind act is called oxytocin, sometimes called the “cuddle” hormone. It helps your heart respond to stress, therefore, increasing overall physical and emotional health.
That good feeling you get when you are a recipient of a kind act can last up to 24 hours, but that good feeling when you are a giver of a kind act can last 7-14 days.
Gratitude, kindness and giving all lead to happiness in ourselves as well as in others, which in turn can lead to a longer and better quality of life.
Amy went on to say, “I’ve also learned that happiness is a choice and that the more I give back and show gratitude, the happier I am.
I’ll leave you with a quote by Dr. Seuss that speaks to the impact each and every one of you has by the compassion you show in supporting our mission: ‘To the world you may be one person, but to one person you may be the world.’”
Thank you to everyone who continues to support the Blesie Tree Walk: the sponsors, all those who donated time, talent, and silent auction items, and everyone who participated. Thanks to your generosity, we raised nearly $8,000! We hope that you feel good about the positive impact you are making.
View photos from the 7th annual Blesie Tree Walk in the gallery below. Feel free to download them by right-clicking on an image and choosing "save image as."