The White River Valley Chamber of Commerce and Gifford Medical Center are collaborating to bring a local candidates’ debate to Randolph on Tuesday, Oct. 21.
Invited to the debate are Orange County senate candidates and candidates vying for two different House of Representative districts.
In the Senate race are Mark MacDonald, the Democratic incumbent, and challenger Robert Frenier, a Republican. One seat is up for grabs.
MacDonald of Williamstown is a farmer and former teacher who served a term in the Senate in the 1990s and has then held the post since 2003. Frenier is a Chelsea business owner.
Orange-Washington-Addison state representatives Patsy French and Marjorie Ryerson, both Democrats from Randolph, are facing Republican challenger Charlie Russell of Randolph Center. Two seats serving the towns of Roxbury, Granville, Brookfield, Braintree, and Randolph are on the ballot.
French has served since 2003 and is a former teacher and co-manager of rental property with her husband. Ryerson, a poet, writer and editor, was appointed by the governor a year ago following the death of former Rep. Larry Townsend. A former dairy farmer, Russell is running a write-in campaign.
In the Orange-Windsor-1 district, incumbent Democrat Sarah Buxton is facing Republican David Ainsworth, a Royalton dairy farmer who held the seat from 2007-2010. Buxton of Tunbridge, a regional coordinator for the Building Bright Futures Council, has filled the seat since 2011 – twice before beating Ainsworth in incredibly narrow races, including one election that was decided by just one vote. The lone seat represents Royalton and Tunbridge.
Buxton is trying to rearrange her work schedule to attend. All other candidates have confirmed they will be attendance.
Gifford Administrator Joseph Woodin will serve as moderator for the debate and Chamber Director Emma Schumann will assist him.
The event starts at 6 p.m. Those in attendance are invited to submit questions and enjoy refreshments from 6-6:30 p.m. The debate will be from 6:30-8 p.m. in the Route 12 hospital’s Conference Center. In addition to audience members’ questions, the debate is expected to focus on business and health care.
“Our state representatives and senator are our voices in Montpelier. As we near the election, it is important to give these individuals who are striving to represent us a chance to share their views and tell us why we should choose them on Nov. 4,” said Schumann. “We hope our communities’ members turn out to ask questions and hear our candidates’ positions on important local and state issues.”
This is the first – and possibly only – debate the candidates will face in Randolph.
The medical center is located at 44 S. Main St. in Randolph. The Conference Center is marked with a green awning. For handicapped accessibility, use the main entrance and take the elevator to the first floor.
Family nurse practitioner Jeff Lourie has brought his passion for primary care to the Gifford Health Center at Berlin.
A Cape Elizabeth, Maine, native, Lourie attended The Evergreen State College in Olympia, Wash., earning his bachelor’s degree in organic chemistry. He went on to work in a research lab studying organic chemical synthesis before discovering that what he really wanted to do was help people – hands on.
He became a certified nursing assistant in his native Maine, and then went on to pursue his family nurse practitioner degree at the University of Southern Maine in Portland.
From there he was certain of his career path: rural, primary care.
“It’s where you can really make a difference,” he says of primary care, noting that difference comes in the bonds formed with whole families. “When you see two, three, four generations of families, you really get to understand why things happen.”
Lourie worked for three years at a rural family practice in Wilton, Maine, before moving with his wife, Emily, to her native Vermont in 2013. The couple moved to Barre and Lourie went to work at Berlin Family Practice as a practitioner for Fletcher Allen Health Care.
This month he joined the Gifford Health Center at Berlin, part of Gifford Health Care in Randolph.
In Berlin, Lourie works with family nurse practitioner Tara Meyer in providing primary care at the multi-specialty health center located just off Airport Road.
Board certified by the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners, Lourie is a member of the American Nurses Association, the American Association of Nurse Practitioners, and is on the board of The Vermont Nurse Practitioners Association.
He brings clinical interests in diabetes management, weight loss, preventative care, and pediatrics to the health center. He is also a certified medical examiner for those seeking a commercial driver’s license.
As a primary care provider, Lourie sees his role in part as a motivator and in part as an advocate for patient goals.
“My goal is to partner with patients,” he says. “I want to work on the issues that they want to work on.”
Lourie is seeing new patients of all ages. Call him at the Gifford Health Center at Berlin at (802) 229-2325.
Jan Rogers of Williamstown used colored pencils to depict this Brookfield barn. The barn is no longer in use and she has consequently titled the piece “Brookfield’s Past.” It is part of her display in the Gifford Medical Center art gallery in Randolph. (Provided)
Williamstown artist Jan Rogers’ drawings and photography are featured in the Gifford Medical Center art gallery now through Oct. 29.
Working under the name “X-pressions by Jan,” Rogers uses colored pencil, graphite, mixed media and photography to show primarily nature.
“Most of my work is done in the fine line drawing method using a soft touch, subtle elimination of lines and acute attention to detail,” says Rogers. “These skills can turn a drawing into a painting.”
Pheasants sit upon a broken down piece of farm equipment in “Country Freedom” – part of a new show at the Gifford Medical Center art gallery by Jan Rogers of Williamstown. (Provided)
Rogers uses various sizes of compressed paper stumps to apply graphite, pastel and colored pencil to Bristol board, mat board, and pastel and vellum papers. Values, tones and textures are constructed by drawing and blending to create depth and shading, resulting in a combination of lights and darks making the works almost “photo realistic.”
“Graphite is my choice of medium because of the detail that can be achieved,” Rogers adds, noting that she uses pastel and colored pencil with some of her graphite works to enhance a single area.
“Nocturnal Wisdom” features an owl perched on a slim tree branch. The piece is part of Williamstown artist Jan Rogers’ current show in the Gifford Medical Center art gallery in Randolph. (Provided)
Rogers has been drawing and painting most of her life. She attended workshops at the Ashton Art Institute in Connecticut on fine line drawing, and works out of a home studio on commissions and inspirations for upcoming shows.
Her paintings have been exhibited in galleries and shows in Connecticut, Arizona, California and Vermont, where she is a member of the Paletteers art group and also currently has her works on display at the White River Craft Center in Randolph. She additionally designs one-of-a-kind notecards that are sold in Gifford’s Garden Gate Gift Shop.
Her show at Gifford is free and open to the public. Works can be purchased in the hospital’s Garden Gate Gift Shop.
The Gifford Gallery is located just inside the hospital’s main entrance at 44 S. Main St. (Route 12) in Randolph. The Gift Shop is on the south end of the hospital near the entrance to the nursing home and Birthing Center.
A nurse practitioner with advanced degrees and diverse experience has joined Gifford Health Care’s family practice in Randolph.
Family nurse practitioner Christina Harlow holds a bachelor’s degree in nursing from Colorado Mesa University, a master’s degree in nursing from the University of Arizona College of Nursing in Tucson and a doctor of nursing practice degree from the same institution.
She is board certified by the American Nurses Credentialing Center, a member of the American Nurses Association, and has experience in emergency medicine, psychiatrics and more.
A native of Wisconsin, Harlow’s first career was as a mountain bike guide and a river guide in Utah and West Virginia. During that time, however, Harlow lost a brother to mental illness. Looking to her future, she knew she needed a more stable career. The loss of her brother struck an interest in better understanding depression and anxiety.
She went to nursing school and worked internationally as a volunteer in Honduras and Northern India and in the United States as a psychiatric registered nurse, then in specialty and inpatient care and finally in an emergency room. “I wanted to be more well-rounded, because psych is everywhere,” she says of her diverse experience.
She went on to nurse practitioner school and then took the extra step to earn her doctorate in the field.
She worked as an emergency department nurse practitioner in Colorado and as an adjunct professor at Adam’s State University, before deciding to move to Vermont with her family.
Her husband, Dr. Nathaniel Harlow, grew up in Vermont and wanted to be closer to family here.
The couple both joined Gifford – him as a sports medicine provider at the Sharon Health Center and her as a family medicine nurse practitioner in Randolph, where she is looking forward to getting to know her patients and providing well-rounded care.
“I wanted more than just a passing relationship with my patients,” she notes of her emergency department work. “I am really interested in continuity of care.”
In Harlow, patients will find a highly-educated, compassionate caregiver and open communicator.
“Being a nurse first, I have open communication with my patients. I nurse to my patients,” she says. “I like to focus on health. Your health is your wealth.”
“I also really embrace a holistic perspective,” she says, noting she considers a patient’s emotional and spiritual well-being in addition to more common inquiries about diet and exercise.
Harlow’s specific clinical interests include preventative care, women’s health, holistic care and mental illness. As a family nurse practitioner, she treats all ages as well as both men and women.
In her free time, Harlow – a competitive mountain biker, road cyclist, adventure racer, distance runner and climber – enjoys travel and the outdoors. She and her husband are currently living in Brookfield with their young daughter, Juliana, 1.
Harlow is seeing new patients. Call Gifford’s central scheduling line at 728-2777 to make an appointment with Harlow.
Dr. Nathaniel “Nat” Harlow grew up in Vermont, in Underhill, so when it came time to put his newly earned sports medicine fellowship to work, he looked to the Green Mountains of his childhood.
Dr. Harlow has joined Gifford Medical Center’s renowned sports medicine practice in Sharon.
A graduate of Brown University in Providence, R.I., he went on to medical school at the University of New England College of Osteopathic Medicine in Biddeford, Maine.
Interested in rural medicine, he completed a family medicine residency at St. Mary’s Family Medicine Residency in Grand Junction, Colo., and went on to work at a Critical Access Hospital in Del Norte, Colo., as an emergency department physician and director of emergency medicine for three years.
An avid climber, skier and mountain biker, Dr. Harlow had considered a sports medicine fellowship out of residency, but the program wasn’t yet developed.
Through his emergency physician role and through work with ski area clinics, he saw many skiing traumas and acute orthopedic injuries. The interest was sparked once more, and by now the fellowship program was developed.
He completed a primary care sports medicine fellowship at Rocky Mountain Orthopedics through St. Mary’s Family Medicine Residency in Grand Junction, Colo.
Already board certified by the American Board of Family Medicine, he went on to earn an additional Certificate of Added Qualification in sports medicine from the same board.
“I believe strongly in providing health care in rural, underserved areas,” says Dr. Harlow, and “I really wanted to come back to Vermont.”
He found just what he was looking for – rural medicine with a sports medicine focus at the Sharon Health Center.
“I’m very excited to be part of the practice. It’s such a strong team environment. It’s a unique practice setting for sports medicine,” he says.
In Sharon, Dr. Harlow is working alongside podiatrists, chiropractors, another sports medicine doctor, an athletic trainer and physical therapists.
Dr. Harlow practices full-spectrum primary care sports medicine including non-operative orthopedics care, as well as the medical aspects of sports medicine, such as care of concussions, sports pre-screenings for heart health, people with asthma and diabetics. He has strong interests in combining sports and wilderness medicine to care for the mountain athlete, using exercise as medicine for non-athletes to help treat and prevent chronic conditions, and osteopathic manipulation.
Friendly and approachable, Dr. Harlow listens to his patients and works with athletes and non-athletes alike to help them reach or return to fitness goals.
Dr. Harlow is a member of the American Medical Society for Sports Medicine, American Academy of Family Physicians and the Wilderness Medical Society.
Now living in Brookfield with his wife and fellow Gifford health care provider, family nurse practitioner Christina Harlow, and their 1-year-old daughter, Juliana, Dr. Harlow enjoys fly fishing and playing guitar in addition to mountain sports. He is also an avid volunteer, both at home and internationally. In fact, he hopes to reach out to area high schools and colleges to provide expertise in concussion management, for example.
To schedule an appointment or learn more, call him at the Sharon Health Center at 763-8000.
On her road to becoming an ob/gyn, Dr. Melissa Scalera flirted with Vermont. First there was her undergraduate studies at Williams College just three miles south of the Vermont border in Massachusetts. She crossed the border for Chinese food, antiques, and skiing. Later her residency was at Albany Medical Center in nearby New York.
Now she and her ski enthusiast family are thrilled to be calling Vermont home.
Dr. Scalera has joined Gifford Ob/Gyn & Midwifery in Randolph.
Originally from New Jersey, Dr. Scalera was the first person in her immediate family to attend college.
Her mother made a list of “academically acceptable” schools, starting with Harvard, that her daughter would be “allowed” to attend, Dr. Scalera recalls. Williams was on it. Scalera loved the school and everything about learning. Initially she thought that she’d major in Spanish literature or art history. “Choose something else” was her dad’s reply.
She graduated with a degree in psychology in the middle of a recession and applied for any and every job she could find. She took a position with a direct marketing company that made and sold leather bound books.
Hunched over a budget report one night at 10 p.m. at that long-ago job, she had an epiphany.
Unhappy stuck in a cubical all day, she wanted to be more active, look at fewer spreadsheets, see the sun, and talk to people.
About the same time, she had seen an ob/gyn for a routine exam and blood work. The exam went well, but the follow-up appointment to go over the results of the blood work with a different doctor was less than stellar. He was cranky, didn’t listen, and she left thinking “I can do better than that.”
Twenty-one and full of confidence, she called her mom and said, “I want to be a doctor.” She quit her job, moved in with her parents, and did two years of post-baccalaureate studies in the pre-medical curriculum at nearby Seton Hall University in South Orange, N.J.
She went on to the New Jersey School of Medicine at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey in Newark, earning her doctor of medicine degree in 1997. A four-year ob/gyn residency followed at Albany Medical Center in New York.
She spent the next 14 years working as an ob/gyn physician in the United States, in Washington, Texas, Oregon, Pennsylvania, and North Carolina, and in New Zealand.
Her work in New Zealand was meant to be a six-month adventure. She liked it so much she stayed seven years. Her role in New Zealand was that of a specialist. Midwives in New Zealand provide complete obstetric care for low-risk births. General practitioners’ offices provide Pap smears and routine gynecologic care. Dr. Scalera consequently handled high-risk maternity cases, colposcopy or abnormal Pap smears, and gynecologic surgeries.
“I basically backed up every mid-wife in town.”
“I think Gifford and Vermont are the closest to New Zealand that I’m going to get and still be in the continental U.S.,” says Dr. Scalera, who returned to the States to be near family but looked north for snow.
Dr. Scalera and her family, including her husband of 20 years, Bob Pressey, son Michael, 11, and daughter Catherine, 5, are living in Randolph, where they are loving the community and the school system. They hope to find an older home to buy within walking distance of Gifford.
“I think people are really, really nice, and already kids are coming over to ask if my son would like to come out and play,” says Dr. Scalera, remembering her own childhood of neighborhood children at play and wanting that for her family.
Dr. Scalera is board certified by the American Board of Obstetrics and Gynecology and The Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.
She describes her bedside manner as “friendly.” “I like people and I love to talk,” she says. Her clinical interests include general obstetrics and gynecology.
“Gifford,” she says, is “a really fantastic match for me.”
Dr. Scalera is accepting new patients. Call her at Gifford Ob/Gyn & Midwifery at (802) 728-2401.
Dr. Sean Tubens’ path to becoming an ob/gyn physician was anything but direct.
The Baltimore native joined the U.S. Marines out of high school and spent four years as an aviation electrician working on F18s and serving during Operation Desert Storm.
He returned home to Baltimore unsure what he would do next. The idea of becoming a lawyer or psychologist appealed to him but the years of school seemed daunting. His father was a hairdresser and although his first instinct was “no way,” he took up his father’s trade.
“It ended up being a lot of fun, and I was actually really good at it,” he recalls, noting he worked as a hair stylist for 12 years and even owned his own salon.
And then the unthinkable happened. His parents died. Both of them.
His mother was diagnosed with cancer on Dec. 1, 1996. She died that same month on Dec. 31. His father had a lung transplant that same year. He had pulmonary fibrosis. Despite the transplant, he died on Aug. 31, 1997 – exactly eight months after his spouse.
An only child, Dr. Tubens found himself at a crossroads and asking the question “Am I happy with the direction of my life?”
“I just didn’t feel I was making a contribution to other people in a way I was capable of,” he said.
After years of avoiding school, “I decided maybe I wanted to be a surgeon.”
At age 31, he hired a tutor to get through his college entrance exams. “I had no college experience whatsoever.”
He attended Towson University in his native Baltimore, graduating magna cum laude in just three years while still working full-time at his salon. He was accepted to and attended Ross University School of Medicine in Dominica in the West Indies and New Jersey.
Obstetrics and gynecology wasn’t his first choice when it came to medicine – until he assisted with a birth from beginning to end. “It was from that moment that I realized what an honor and a privilege it is to be involved in this process, and that that was what I wanted to do.”
Dr. Tubens went on to complete his obstetrics and gynecology residency at Bayfront Medical Center in St. Petersburg, Fla., working exclusively on high risk pregnancies and performing gynecologic surgeries. “I love gynecologic surgery, specifically laparoscopic procedures,” he says.
His work at Bayfront earned him recognitions for excellence in laparoscopic surgery, excellence in reproductive endocrinology and as outstanding resident teacher of the year.
When it came time to look for a job, Dr. Tubens looked for a warm and friendly community where he and his wife could settle with their two huskies.
He has found that in Vermont and at Gifford.
“People are so welcoming. They smile. That’s very attractive,” said Dr. Tubens. “We hope we can spend the rest of our lives here.”
He and his wife, physician assistant Susan Post-Tubens, have bought a home in Bethel.
They have three grown children and in their free-time enjoy golf, skiing, snowboarding, hiking, travel and reading.
For the region, Dr. Tubens, a physician with a calming demeanor who collaborates with patients to improve quality of life, is a new resource for more complicated pregnancies and surgery. His clinical interests include high-risk pregnancies, office gynecologic procedures as well as gynecologic surgery, especially laparoscopic surgery.
His greatest priority is patient safety and care, notes the physician who is a member of both the American College of Physicians and the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecologists. “The most important thing is the patient. That is the number one priority.”
Dr. Tubens is working full-time at Gifford Ob/Gyn & Midwifery in Randolph. Call him at (802) 728-2401.
When orthopedic surgeon Dr. Kenyatta Norman first came to Gifford Medical Center in January it was meant to be temporary. She was what the industry calls a locum tenens physician. In simple terms, a locum tenens doctor fills in when a hospital has an opening, hasn’t filled it but doesn’t want patients to have to go without care.
Dr. Norman has spent her career working across the country as a locum. That is, until now.
In Gifford and the region, Dr. Norman has found a place where she wants to continue to work and a community where she wants to live and raise a family.
“I am excited to be here. The people are so warm, friendly and nice. That was part of the reason I decided to stay. This area seems perfect as I will be able to be involved with my future children and continue to give excellent care to my patients,” said Dr. Norman.
A native of Indiana, Dr. Norman pursued medicine in part because someone told her she couldn’t.
“I think somebody told me I couldn’t be a doctor (an older gentleman), and I thought ‘Really? Wow.’ I think that cemented it there,” she said, demonstrating the competitive spirit required to become a great surgeon.
She was a child at the time but becoming a physician became her goal.
She earned her bachelor’s degree in biology from Indiana University in Bloomington with a minor in sociology. She went on to medical school at Indiana University School of Medicine.
“I was initially interested in primary care, but after a rotation in general surgery I realized I liked the OR and working with my hands,” she recalled.
And then she did a rotation in orthopedics. “I was enamored after my first orthopedic surgery as a medical student.”
Dr. Norman went on to an orthopedic residency was at Howard University School of Medicine in Washington, D.C., and then continued onto an orthopedic oncology fellowship at Mount Clemens Medical Regional Center in Michigan.
Since, she has worked at Veterans Affairs Medical Centers in Hampton, Va., and Martinsburg, W. Va., and at hospitals and health centers in Kentucky, New Mexico, Illinois and Virginia. The New Mexico post was at Indian Health Services.
“I have worked in many different settings,” Dr. Norman said of her career, “and Gifford is definitely at the top!”
At Gifford, Dr. Norman provides general orthopedics care, help for fractures, arthroscopic surgery and more. Her subspecialty is orthopedic oncology.
A good-natured caregiver who is quick to laugh, Dr. Norman says, “I try to make everyone feel at home and I try to make sure everyone understands his or her health problem, and I really try to treat every patient like a member of my family.”
Dr. Norman is a member of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons.
She is practicing full-time at Gifford in Randolph with physician assistant Brad Salzmann. Previously from St. Louis, she and her husband have made the community their home.
“I am ready to be part of the Gifford team and become a Vermonter. I may even learn to snowboard,” Dr. Norman said.
Call her at Gifford at (802) 728-2455. Appointments can be made by calling central scheduled at (802) 728-2777.
On display as part of the final concert of the summer at Gifford on Tuesday will be the Randolph Center Fire Department’s new rescue tanker, pictured here in front of the Randolph Center station. The fire department is also putting on a community barbecue. All events start at 6 p.m.
Gifford and the White River Valley Chamber of Commerce community concert series ends Aug. 26 with a special performance from Jeanne & The Hi-Tops and a special barbecue from the Randolph Center Fire Department.
Firefighters from the volunteer department will be grilling up and selling hamburgers and hotdogs while Jeanne & The Hi-Tops perform old time rock and roll. Both events start at 6 p.m.
Jeanne & The Hi-Tops is a six-member band from central Vermont that first came together in the early 1990s. Their musical journey has led them down many alleys of inspiration, including New Orleans funk, Memphis soul, Kansas City swing, Chicago blues, Tex-Mex, reggae and the swamp-pop/zydeco sounds of the Louisiana bayou. Today, the group describes its style as driving rhythms and good-natured grooves.
The band includes lead vocalist Jeanne McCullough, guitarists Cannon Labrie and Terry Cantlin, horn player and MC Jack Kruse, David Indenbaum on bass and Michael Bradshaw on drums.
While the band gets its groove on, the fire department will also have its new rescue tanker on hand for children and people of all ages to see and sit in. The department took delivery of the 2013 International on May 1. It holds 1,800 gallons of water plus rescue tools, such as the jaws of life. The tools are pre-connected and stored in the front bumper for quick access and quick help in an emergency.
The firefighters noted they will also have gear on hand for spectators to see.
Money raised at the barbecue will go to the department’s fireman’s fund, said Chief Ken Preston.
“Benefits from these sales will go toward purchasing equipment that we couldn’t otherwise afford,” Preston said.
The community concert series in the park at Gifford is sponsored by Gillespie Fuels and Propane, the Frankenburg Agency, and the Gifford Medical Center Auxiliary.
The concerts typically go until 7:30 p.m. and also feature a farmers market. Spectators are encouraged to bring a lawn chair or picnic table, an appetite, and family and friends. Learn more online at www.giffordmed.org or call (802) 728-2339.
Runners take off for the Last Mile Ride 5K and walk on Friday at Gifford in Randolph. (Provided/Janet Miller)
Fueled by compassion, 154 runners and walkers, 201 motorcyclists and 38 cyclists gathered at Gifford Medical Center on Friday and Saturday for the Last Mile Ride, raising $60,000 for area residents in life’s last mile.
Now in its ninth year, the Last Mile Ride has grown to a two-day event that includes a timed 5K, one-mile walk, 38-mile cycle ride and 80-mile motorcycle ride. The annual event raises money for Gifford patients in and out of the hospital who are in advanced illness or at the end of life. Money raised at the ride goes directly to help patients with comfort measures, provides financial support to patients and families, and grants special wishes.
Cyclists leave for the Last Mile Ride on Saturday. (Provided/Janet Miller)
This year marked both a record number of participants – 386 in total – and a record amount of money raised. It was also an event fraught with emotional highs and lows.
The event included a Harley-Davidson raffle. Cody Flanagan, 19, from Barre won the bike from Wilkins Harley-Davidson, but wasn’t there to receive it. He is in Afghanistan.
His father, Tim Flanagan, a respiratory therapist at Gifford, who bought two tickets in Cody’s name accepted on his behalf. The older Flanagan got out that his son was in Afghanistan before breaking down. He received a standing ovation.
Motorcyclists wind their way through central Vermont as part of the Last Mile Ride on Saturday. (Provided/Alison White)
“I was just ecstatic and overwhelmed for Cody,” Tim Flanagan said Monday. “I just felt it was a storybook kind of finish. It was meant to be.”
Cody, a medic airborne ranger, who graduated from Spaulding High School a year early, joined the U.S. Army two years ago at age 17. He has been in Afghanistan a month. His battalion just lost a member on Aug. 12 and has been on an emotional low.
Tim Flanagan called his son in Afghanistan from the ride to tell him he had won. It was around midnight there and he was exhausted, but excited. “He’s quite ecstatic. He’s thrilled,” said his father, noting it has been a morale booster for the unit.
The moment was reminiscent of the cause, which uplifts families in difficult situations.
Margaret Gish of Sharon races back toward Gifford in the fastest among a female at 20:49.7. (Provided/Janet Miller)
Robin Morgan spoke at the 5K and walk on Friday evening. She lost her step-father Michael Durkee to an aggressive cancer in May 2013. He spent his last days in the Garden Room – Gifford’s garden-side end-of-life care suite.
“Being in the Garden Room, we all got to be together. They were so supportive of us,” Morgan said. “They gave us food, (and) everything you can possibly imagine.”
Morgan and her family walked in the Last Mile last year and again this year. Morgan pushed her two young children in a double-stroller. “It (the Last Mile Ride) is a big part of my life now,” she said, before rushing to embrace her mom and Michael Durkee’s widow, Joan Durkee.
Last Mile walkers return to Gifford Friday evening. (Provided/Janet Miller)
Palliative care nurse John Young on Saturday at the motorcycle and cycle ride spoke of the privilege of working at a hospital that supports palliative care and how lucky the hospital is to have the community’s support.
Physician assistant Starr Strong remembered her friend Judy Alexander who was “an incredible nurse, wonderful friend and mother.” A “Harley chick” and past participant of the Last Mile Ride, Alexander died in April of cancer.
Her family received assistance from the Last Mile Ride fund.
Philip Tenney of Northfield walks over the finish line of the Last Mile Ride 5K. He came in last (1:00:14.0) but was first in many participants’ eyes. Three weeks earlier he had a lifesaving kidney transplant. (Provided/Alison White)
“It made her passing much richer because of the support from the Last Mile Ride,” Strong said, encouraging those present to recognize both the importance of their contribution “because you never know when it’s your turn” and to “celebrate life.”
The event also included the raffle of a bicycle from Green Mountain Bikes in Rochester. Richard Polarek, 88, from Brookfield won the bicycle. And a queen-size quilt made by Gifford nursing staff was won by motorcyclist Cherry Lloyd of Randolph.
Prizes were also given out for the events top fund-raisers and the top 5K finishers.
The fastest male finishers were Christopher Gish of Sharon (16:37.9), David Mattern of Tunbridge (18:47.6) and Zachery McDermott of Randolph (20:26.0). The fastest female finishers were Margaret Gish of Sharon (20:49.7), Becky Olmstead of Bethel (23:58:4) and Stacy Pelletier of Braintree (24:11.7). See a full list of race results online at www.begoodsports.com/race-results/.
The top 5K fund-raiser was Kyla Grace of Randolph and the top walk fund-raiser was Penny Maxfield of East Roxbury. The top cyclist fund-raiser was Cory Gould of Worcester. And the top motorcycle fund-raisers were Linda Chugkowski and Robert Martin of Northfield who collectively raised $4,000 for the cause and Reg Mongeur of Randolph who raised more than $3,500.
Mongeur spent many evenings at Shaw’s in Randolph collecting for the cause.
“I have the time and the desire,” said Mongeur of why he made the effort. “I’ve lost quite a few family members in the Garden Room and quite a few vets went through there.
“It’s just my way of giving back to the community,” said Mongeur, who also coordinated road guard efforts for the ride as a member of the Combat Veterans Motorcycle Association Chapter 26-2.
Runners, from front, Richard Kozlowski, Stacy Pelletier and Becky Olmstead race along Route 12 toward Beanville Road. (Provided/Alison White)
This year’s ride, he said, was “beautiful, absolutely gorgeous.” Riders returning it called it “the best.”
As top fund-raisers, Chugkowski and Martin won four Red Sox tickets and VIP tour of Fenway thanks to the generosity of the Red Sox and Froggy 100.9. Mongeur won four tickets to the New Hampshire Motor Speedway to see the Sylvania 300 thanks to the generosity of the Loudon, N.H., organization.
Many other prizes were given out, thanks to the generosity of local and regional businesses. The event also received record sponsorship support, including from major sponsors The Frankenburg Agency, Froggy 100.9, Lucky’s Trailer Sales, Northfield Savings Bank and Wilkins Harley-Davidson.
The 10th annual Last Mile Ride will be Aug. 14 and 15, 2015.