Milford woman honors her late daughter at Jimmy Fund brunch

Beverly Swymer of Milford spoke at the recent Boston Marathon Jimmy Fund Walk Extra Mile Brunch in honor of her late daughter, Karen Swymer-Shanahan, and all those who inspire participants of the one-day charity walk.
Beverly Swymer of Milford spoke at the recent Boston Marathon Jimmy Fund Walk Extra Mile Brunch in honor of her late daughter, Karen Swymer-Shanahan, and all those who inspire participants of the one-day charity walk.

RALLYING SUPPORT: Even though Milford resident ­Beverly Swymer (inset) is not fond of public speaking, she agreed to address the Boston Marathon Jimmy Fund Walk Extra Mile Brunch last month. She spoke in honor of her late daughter, Karen ­Swymer- Shanahan, and all those who inspire the participants of the annual one-day charity walk.

Swymer is among 1,386 participants who achieved Pace­setter status by raising at least $1,250 for last year’s event, which drew a total of 8,000 walkers. (Team Karen Swymer-Shanahan has raised nearly $364,000 since 1995.) Also during the brunch, Julie Cohen of Bedford was recognized as Volunteer of the Year for her longtime dedication to the event.

The Swymer family’s involvement with the Dana­Farber Cancer Institute’s Jimmy Fund began in 1980, when Karen was diagnosed with Ewing’s sarcoma, a rare type of bone cancer, at age 10. While in her second year of law school 15 years later, Karen learned that osteosarcoma — another type of bone cancer – had formed in the same arm and spread to her lungs.


After 18 months of chemotherapy, surgery, and the amputation of her right arm, Karen went into remission for a second time. She graduated from law school and achieved her dream of becoming a practicing attorney before a routine X-ray revealed a large tumor in her left lung in May 2000.

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Less than a year later, Karen married the love of her life, Bill Shanahan. She died on April 29, 2002.

Swymer said her daughter, a longtime spokeswoman for the Jimmy Fund Clinic, wanted people with cancer to be considered survivors rather than victims, and Dana-Farber seen as a “place of hope and healing, not death and dying.”

“She made us all understand that it’s not impossible to see your dreams come true, in spite of your challenges,” added ­Swymer, recalling how Karen, a gifted artist, retrained herself to paint with her left hand. “Even in moments when you believe it the least, there is always room for joy. She helped us find it.”

The 25th annual Jimmy Fund Walk will take place on Sept. 8, following the 26.2-mile route of the Boston Marathon. For more information, visit www.jimmyfundwalk.org.


FOOD SERVICE: Last year, Holliston High School juniors Sam Scott and Sara Tajik organized the 5-mile Walk for the Holliston Pantry Shelf as part of a community service project for the

Juniors Sara Tajik and Sam Scott are hosting the second annual 5-mile Walk for the Holliston Pantry Shelf on April 28 at 10 a.m. at Holliston High School.

National Honor Society. This year, they’re repeating the event on April 28, and hope to top last year’s $951 donation to the all-volunteer, nonprofit organization.

Registration will begin at 10 a.m. for the walk, which will start and end at Holliston High School, 307 Hollis St.

“We want to get as much of the town involved as possible,” said Scott, who originally learned about the Holliston Pantry Shelf during a field trip in middle school. “We’re trying to make this year’s walk as good as it can be, because the food pantry is such a deserving organization.”

Amy Porter, a board member of the Holliston Pantry Shelf, said supplies are currently so low that staff members are buying staples they’ve never had to purchase before.


“Families just can’t make ends meet at the grocery store, and they’re having to depend on us more than ever,” said Porter, noting that items in heavy demand include pasta, pasta sauce, juice boxes, sugar, cooking oil, peanut butter, and tuna.

Porter praised the students’ leadership, which she said will truly make a difference.

“Our services are anonymous, so they don’t know who among their friends and neighbors are using the pantry,” she noted. “It’s a nice way for them to show their support.”

The walk fees are $10 for students, $20 for adults, and $40 for a family. Each donation of a nonperishable food item will earn a raffle ticket for gift certificates and baskets.

The Holliston Pantry Shelf, at 23 Water St., is open on weekdays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., as well as 4 to 7:30 p.m. on Wednesdays. For more details, call 508-429-5392 or visit www.hollistonpantryshelf.org.

SUPPORTING BOYS TO MEN: Newton resident Linda Marks said she was concerned about her son, Alex, when he stopped

Singer-songwriters and longtime collaborators Linda Marks (left) and Lisa Wexler will perform at the second annual Voices of Boys and Men benefit concert on April 21, 5 to 7:30 p.m., at Scullers Jazz Club in Boston.

seeing his father at age 12. Wanting Alex to have positive male role models in his life, Marks had them both become involved in Boys to Men New England, which offers adult-teen mentoring in community and school settings for ages 12 to 17 in Massachusetts and Connecticut.

“For any teenage boy to have one adult who really cares about him and wants to sustain a meaningful relationship is huge,” said Marks, who is now board cochairwoman and regional outreach coordinator of Boys to Men New England. “When you have a number who all care, it’s very powerful.”

Now 16, Alex has since reconnected with his father but remains part of the organization. At monthly meetings, the teens discuss confidentially the challenges they face at home and school. They also participate in activities such as basketball, bowling, laser tag, and other events involving lots of pizza.

“It’s a place to be supported and have your voice heard. The conversations get better and better,” Alex said. “It’s cool to see how we’ve all grown over time.”

Marks, a singer-songwriter, is one of several performers lending their talents to the second annual Voices of Boys and Men benefit concert, from 5 to 7:30 p.m. next Sunday at Scul­lers Jazz Club, 400 Soldiers Field Road in Boston.

The event’s keynote speakers are Williams College head football coach Aaron Kelton and jazz singer Rebecca Parris. Local performers include 15-year-old saxophonist Sarah Hanahan of Marlborough, Boston Jazz Singers Showcase cofounder and bass player Dan Fox of Arlington, pianist Joe Reid of Belmont, and the Vocal Revolution (formerly Sounds of Concord) barbershop group.

For ticket information, call 617-913-0683 or go online to www.boystomennewengland.org.

BROADCAST NEWS: Award-winning journalist and filmmaker Robin Young will be the featured speaker at a Walden Forum presentation Thursday at 7:30 p.m. at First Parish in Wayland, 50 Cochituate Road .

In her presentation, “People Who Make a Difference,” Young will discuss her view of the broadcast landscape and the evolving technology that has defined it. The longtime host of “Here & Now” on WBUR-FM, Young has also directed broadcasts of Boston Bruins and Boston Red Sox games, was the first woman on the air at WBZ-AM, and worked in network television and documentary filmmaking.

Young said her talk at the Walden Forum is timely, since “Here & Now” is being expanded to two hours through a new partnership with National Public Radio.

“We’ll mix personal stories with thoughts about the future of radio in an age of Twitter and blogs,” she wrote in an e-mail.

The Walden Forum is a free public lecture series. For more information, e-mail info@ waldenforum.org or visit www.waldenforum.org.

People items may be submitted to Cindy Cantrell at cantrell@ globe.com.