Connie Venskus of Rumford, who turns 73 on Sept. 19, is training for her 10th Boston Marathon Jimmy Fund Walk on Oct. 4. This year’s walk is virtual, so she will be walking the 26.2 miles in Rumford. Submitted photo

RUMFORD — The coronavirus pandemic has reshaped countless American rituals, including the Boston Marathon Jimmy Fund Walk — an event Connie Venskus of Rumford has been a part of since 2011.

This year’s fundraiser, slated for Oct. 4, is being held virtually.

“I actually considered not doing the walk this year, but only for a brief time, when I realized that this was going to be my tenth year; kind of a milestone,” said Venskus, who turns 73 on Sept. 19. “I knew I had to go with it.”

Once again, Venskus will be fundraising in support of research and patient care at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston. Over the past nine years, she has raised more than $8,800, attaining pacesetter status with at least $1,500 a year, “with the help of my wonderful family and friends,” she said.

The link for Venskus’ personal fundraising page is https://danafarber.jimmyfund.org/site/TR?px=1029147&pg=personal&fr_id=1390

Venskus will make the 26.2-mile walk at home in Rumford, the same area where she has been training.

“I started walking earlier this year; not the actual training until mid July, but I was walking in April which was earlier than previous years, so that gave me a head start on fitness,” Venskus said.

The virtual walk will be a totally different experience for Venskus. “It will be a bit sad not to have the fun and excitement of folks at rest stops cheering us on and all the balloons and music and hoopla that makes the walk so special,” she said.

Instead, she plans to make her own starting/finish line in her driveway and buy some helium-filled balloons to recreate a little of the feel of the annual event in Boston, which draws thousands of participants each year.

“My rest stops will be here at my home, of course, as my walk is an out and back and I am never more than four miles away from home,” Venskus said. “I hope to start before dawn (equipped with headlamp and reflective vest) especially if the forecast is for Indian summer weather.”

Venskus is hoping to finish her walk between seven and a half and eight hours. “My personal best was seven and a half. Not having someone in front of me that I want pass will probably make my time a bit slower!”

As she does her virtual walk, what will Venskus be thinking about?

“On the Boston walk, there are posters on easels which have photos of some of the children who have been helped by this fight against cancer and that is always an inspiration. As a Catholic, I also use the time to say a complete rosary and a good reminder to pray for my family and friends who have been affected by cancer,” said Venskus.


Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.