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Christopher's Challenge Hike for Life | Community Service

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Christopher's Challenge Hike for Life
Christopher's Challenge Hike for Life

Two men who lost their lives to cancer will be honored this weekend at the 11th Annual Hike for Life, sponsored Christopher’s Challenge and Strong’s Blood and Marrow Transplant Program on Sunday, March 25. The Hike for Life will be held in memory of Gene Martello, from Seneca Falls, and Tony Canali, from Canandaigua. Both men were in need of bone marrow transplants, and were dedicated supporters of Christopher's Challenge and believed in the mission of getting more people typed to be potential bone marrow donors.

Tony Canali, a guidance counselor and rugby and indoor track coach for McQuaid Jesuit, lost his battle with AML Leukemia in 2009 on his 60th birthday. Gene Martello passed away in 2006 after a brave fight with multiple myeloma. Gene’s son, Mark Martello, became a bone marrow donor last year after taking part in a bone marrow drive at a Christopher’s Challenge Hike for Life the previous year. He is hoping to meet his recipient soon.

Those participating in the Hike for Life will collect donations and take a hike/lap around the inside of Eastview Mall. A large number of high school teams are participating and prizes will be awarded to the school team, family and individual who raise the most money.

Proceeds from the Hike will pay the $100 testing fees for people to be typed to become potential bone marrow donors through the Be the Match Registry. The money will also purchase items for the Bone Marrow Unit at Strong to help patients and their families' stay at the hospital be more tolerable.  In the past the items purchased have been laptops, beds, cots, movies, game-stations, DVD players for all the rooms, upgrades to the family visitation room and chairs so families are able to stay in the rooms of their loved ones.

Christopher's Challenge is calling on the community to help them support their efforts to save lives by adding members to the Be the Match Registry, a national bone marrow registry. Hike for Life registration/donation forms can be picked up the day of the hike. Registration is still open and begins at 8:30 a.m. in the food court at Eastview Mall. The Hike begins at 9:00 am and will last until approximately 9:30 am, with refreshments and prizes to follow.  

About Christopher’s Challenge:

Christopher’s Challenge is name and maintained in honor of Christopher Costello, a young man from Webster, who was suffering from leukemia and in need of a bone marrow transplant. On June 2, 1998, Chris received his life-saving bone marrow transplant at Strong Memorial Hospital and is free of leukemia. The purpose of Christopher’s Challenge is to pay for the typing of samples of individuals willing to become potential donors through the Be the Match Registry, as well as other costs associated with blood and marrow transplants. Over the past 14 years, Christopher’s Challenge has held numerous bone marrow drives and has typed over 5,000 people. More than 25 of those people became donors for patients in need of a bone marrow transplant and were able to give those people a second chance at life. More than $40,000 has been paid to support several patients. For more information on Christopher’s Challenge, visit their website at www.christopherschallenge.org.

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