In Justin’s Honor, Parks, Trails and Forests, Oh My!, Women Who Make a Difference, & Help for Parkinson’s Sufferers: Life Around The River
In Justin’s Honor
Justin Flannery Hilton loved baseball and his family. After a diagnosis of colon cancer and Hilton’s subsequent death in 2013, family and friends combined things dear to him into a journey to help others battling cancer.
Ks for Cancer was established by Hilton’s friend Eric Shaner, to honor Hilton. Ks represents a strike out in baseball, as in “strike out cancer.” After Hilton’s death, the charity was established as a 501c3 to provide direct and immediate financial support to cancer patients and their families who reside in Lycoming County. To date, the organization has provided more than $75,000 to Lycoming County residents.
Patients can apply every six months for $250 gift cards (gas and/or groceries), totaling $500 a year. It does not matter where the patients receive their cancer treatment as long as they reside in Lycoming County. Gift cards can be applied for through the organization or treatment centers. The organization has liaisons at UPMC Susquehanna and Geisinger to help patients access its services.
“Our goal is to continue providing this support to residents of Lycoming County,” said Jamie Rose Young, secretary of Ks for Cancer and Hilton’s sister. “We believe it is very important that the money goes toward supporting our community and those suffering with this life-changing diagnosis.”
The Ks for Cancer Board of Directors consists of family, friends and community resources, including legal counsel, financial advisors and social workers.
“We are extremely blessed to have the direction of a dedicated board of directors, all volunteering their time and energy,” said Jason Hilton, Justin’s brother. “What we do would not be possible without the overwhelming support of the community, family and friends donating time, energy and money.”
The organization hopes to raise $35,000 in 2019 through fundraisers and private donations. Annual fundraisers include The Leprechaun Run, held on the Saturday closest to St Patrick's Day; Coaches-Seniors vs. Cancer charity baseball game held each June at Historic Bowman Field; a dunk tank event held on Little League Welcomes the World Friday in August at Pine Square in downtown Williamsport; and the Justin Flannery Hilton Memorial Golf Tournament at White Deer Golf Course on the first Friday in August.
“Although the majority of proceeds support Ks for Cancer, the organization supports a baseball scholarship in Justin's memory at Millersville University,” said Jason Hilton.
Learn more about K’s for Cancer at ksforcancer.org. – Jennifer Pencek
Parks, Trails and Forests, Oh My!
Infrastructure can include physical structures, roads and even Internet access. Restore Pennsylvania aims to provide funding to help communities address needs across five specific infrastructure areas, including upgrading and expanding green infrastructure like local and state parks, state forests and trails.
Funded by the monetization of a severance tax on the extraction of natural gas, Restore Pennsylvania will invest $4.5 billion over the next four years—once enacted into law—in high-impact projects throughout the commonwealth. Other areas of improvement include addressing blight, expanding broadband access and mitigating the effects of localized flooding.
Department of Conservation and Natural Resources Secretary Cindy Adams Dunn said she looks forward to seeing how the plan develops, especially in the area of green infrastructure. Restore Pennsylvania will provide significant new funding to facilitate new environmental projects and recreational opportunities across the state, including infrastructure and maintenance in state parks, creation and revitalization of new local parks, and funding for new hiking, biking and ATV trail projects.
“Under the green infrastructure piece, there is a lot of opportunity to enhance, restore, repair and create recreational and conservation amenities across Pennsylvania,” Dunn said. “We see all kinds of opportunities coming from this.”
Dunn and other stakeholders toured Shikellamy State Park last March, and witnessed a deteriorating marina building, river bank erosion and other areas of need. Shikellamy, along with other river- and stream-based state parks and state forestlands, has been plagued by flooding in recent years. But Dunn also saw a lot of ways Restore Pennsylvania can help.
“That state park should be a very special park and to have that marina building vacant and run down and with no public use has been heartbreaking, especially seeing it sit there all those years for lack of money,” she said. “That building should be put to good public use.”
Dunn says Restore Pennsylvania should be seen as a rejuvenation of sorts, one that helps “bring the shine.”
“Keeping and attracting younger people to Pennsylvania will be important for our economic future,” she added. “Trails and parks make a difference where young people choose to work, play and live. At the end of the day it’s about quality of life and quality of life depends on keeping up with green infrastructure.”
View the full Restore Pennsylvania plan by clicking here. – Jennifer Pencek
Women Who Make a Difference
The Women in Conservation awards have been honoring Pennsylvania women dedicated to conservation and sustainable communities since 2015. Each year the awards honor women from specific regions of the state; this year’s honorees hail from Central Pennsylvania. The celebration was held April 25 at the Susquehanna Club in New Cumberland.
“It's unique to have a program dedicated to women specifically,” said Jacquelyn Bonomo, president and CEO of PennFuture, which organizes the awards. “The program honors both volunteer and professional women, and can honor both newcomers and lifetimes of environmental work. The awards facilitate relationships and helps forge a stronger network of exceptional women working to protect Pennsylvania's environment, in addition to providing public recognition for their achievements.”
Citizens for Pennsylvania’s Future, known as PennFuture, was created in 1998 as a statewide environmental advocacy organization. The organization’s goal is to protect public health, restore and protect natural resources and move Pennsylvania toward a clean energy future. With offices in Harrisburg, Pittsburgh, Philadelphia and Wilkes-Barre, PennFuture staff litigate cases before regulatory bodies and in local, state and federal courts; advances legislative action on a state and federal level; provides public education; and assists citizens in public advocacy. – Jennifer Pencek
Help for Parkinson’s Sufferers
After a good friend of Cynthia Murphy was diagnosed at an early age with Parkinson’s disease, the certified fitness instructor and personal trainer was determined to help as many people as she could who were battling the progressive nervous system disorder that affects movement.
Since fall 2017, Murphy has taught PWR!Moves® at The Miller Center for Recreation and Wellness in Lewisburg, and added Rock Steady Boxing and Pedaling for Parkinson’s in June 2018. PWR!Moves® incorporates exercises that target cardio, strength, flexibility and large amplitude movements. Rock Steady Boxing is a non-contact boxing class that trains participants in agility, speed, endurance, strength, accuracy, balance, hand-eye coordination and footwork, while Pedaling for Parkinson’s is a low-impact, monitored cycling class.
“Since the onset of the programs, an amazing base of volunteers and three additional boxing coaches have come on board allowing us to offer nine Parkinson’s disease-focused classes each week,” Murphy said. “Many of the volunteers and coaches have a family member affected by Parkinson’s disease, which brings another level of empathy.”
Participation in classes can slow the effects of Parkinson’s by helping regions of the brain that deal with movement connect to each other more effectively, Murphy said. The classes also decrease some of the symptoms by positively affecting mood, self-confidence, rigidity, balance, mobility, tremors, sleep, cardiovascular health, digestion, gait, strength and fine motor skills.
Research studies by the Cleveland Clinic have proven that high effort or “forced” exercise may be neuro-protective, essentially slowing the progression of the disease. Other studies suggest that cycling at rates above what a patient with Parkinson’s disease would choose for themselves is effective in improving functional aspects of mobility often associated with falls.
“The University of Indianapolis and Butler University are documenting improved quality of life among Rock Steady boxers,” Murphy said. “We have also conducted our own before and after assessments on our participants and can report some amazing improvements.”
The Miller Center’s free Walk in the Parkies support group is the second Monday of each month at 10:30 a.m. To register for a program or obtain additional information, e-mail Murphy at firstname.lastname@example.org or call The Miller Center at (570) 556-4191. – Jennifer Pencek