Connie Venskus celebrates after completing the 2021 Jimmy Fund Walk. “Because of the rain, I put the ‘finish line banner’ inside my back porch!” Submitted photo

RUMFORD — For the third year in a row, Connie Venskus of Rumford is doing the Jimmy Fund Walk virtually, an event she has been a part of since 2011.

Venskus, who turns 75 on Sept. 19, will do the 26.2-mile walk Sunday, Oct. 2, all within 1.5 miles of her home in the Virginia section of Rumford, the same area where she has been training.

Once again, Venskus will be fundraising in support of research and patient care at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston. Over the past 11 years, she has raised a total of $15,620 for the Jimmy Fund, attaining pacesetter status with at least $1,500 a year.

Last year, Venskus finished in a personal best time, 6 hours 26 minutes.

“It was a morning that threatened rain and it even did rain for maybe 40 minutes,” she said. “But I guess my fear of more rain made me walk faster than ever!”

She said last year she raised an “amazing $4,520 for this worthy cause. I love having had the support of so many family members and friends.”

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Venskus said the heat this summer has made her walk earlier in the morning, sometimes waking up at 5 and even 3:30 once to walk.

“Also, the road construction on Prospect Avenue has made me change my training route,” she added. “The town crew told me the paving may happen by the end of September, which would be great since the walk is Oct. 2. That would be great.”

Other than those adjustments, Venskus said there are no other big changes, “just new sneakers, which I have to get every year; training on tarred roads wears them out pretty quickly!”

Asked about her walking routine, she said, “I go down to Adley’s from Prospect Avenue and back and do some loops onto Front Street and Crescent Avenue. Also out on Prospect Avenue and around Sunnyside Terrace. Then on to (U.S.) Route 2, from Sunnyside Terrace up to Royal Avenue, with several loops around the Marden’s parking lot,” she said.

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

The in-person walk follows the same route as the Boston Marathon.

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

Venskus said this marathon is “sort of race against myself. I always try to equal or better my previous times.”

Last year, she received an email from the Jimmy Fund Walk staff congratulating her for being in the top 250 fundraisers.

“They emailed me a bib with the number 191 on it: my standing in the top 250,” Venskus said. “I thought that was pretty cool, so I wanted to let you know that all your donations have not only contributed to the very important research for a cure and for the care of cancer patients, but also to the much less important effect of putting this old lady from Rumford into a somewhat ‘elite’ group of ‘athletes.'”

Asked years ago what she thinks about when she’s walking the marathon, Venskus said, “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.”


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