RUMFORD — The COVID-19 pandemic has reshaped countless American rituals, including Jimmy Fund Walk marathon — but there’s no way Connie Venskus of Rumford is missing out.

Connie Venskus of Rumford holds up a sign last year before walking the virtual Jimmy Fund Walk marathon. Venskus will walk virtually again this year through Rumford on Oct. 3, her 11th year participating. Submitted photo

The event is being held virtually for the second year in a row. For Venskus, who turns 74 on Sept. 19, this will be her second year hitting the streets of Rumford to help raise money for cancer research, but she’s been a participant in the event since 2011, which is normally held in Boston.

“I always wait until just a few weeks before to sign up because at my age, you never know!”

She signed up on Sept. 8 for the Oct. 3 event. Just a day later, Venskus said she had already raised $295.

“Almost all my donations so far this year have been because of that.”

The Jimmy Fund raises money to benefit the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute’s mission to “provide compassionate patient care and groundbreaking cancer research for children and adults,” according to its website.

“Honestly, even if they were having it live (in Boston), I would have done it this way anyway. I love doing it here in Rumford,” said Venskus.

Over the past 10 years, Venskus has raised a total of $11,100 for the Jimmy Fund, attaining pacesetter status with at least $1,500 a year.

Last year’s virtual walk in Rumford was her largest fundraiser yet with $2,300, which she raised with the help of her family and friends, she said.

The 26.2 mile route is being walked within 1.5 miles of her home in the Virginia section of Rumford, the same area where she has been training.

Venskus said she usually gets started in the dark at 4 a.m. Then, as it gets lighter, she walks out on U.S. Route 2.

“I go down to Adley’s (Auto Sales) from Prospect Avenue and back, and do some loops onto Front Street and Crescent Avenue,” she said, “(and) also out on Prospect Avenue and around Sunnyside Terrace; then on to Route 2, from Sunnyside Terrace up to Royal Avenue, with several loops around the Marden’s parking lot.”

Venskus said she uses an app on her iPhone to track her miles.

At last year’s virtual walk, she made her own start/finish line in her driveway and bought some helium-filled balloons to recreate a little of the feel the event had when it was live in Boston.

Venskus said she had great weather and was able to complete the marathon in 6 hours and 54 minutes, “besting my previous fastest time by 37 minutes!”

She noted she was overwhelmed by all the expressions of love and friendship about the walk.

Venskus said Debbie Moon made posters and hung them along the last two miles of the route; her mother, sister Louise Stickney and husband Bob, met up with her near the end of the walk; and Rich Kent and his dog, Bailey, walked the last 3.2 miles with her.

Asked years ago what she thinks about when she’s doing the marathon, Venskus said she finds inspiration from the children who will benefit.

“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,” she said. “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.”

To make a donation, go to danafarber.jimmyfund.org/goto/ConstanceVenskus. Venskus said people can also find her personal page on Facebook and scroll to her Facebook fundraiser.


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