Globe North People

Paying it forward

Holly Walton (left) of Wilmington, founder of Heaps of Hope Inc., presents gift cards to Melinda Taranto-Garnis, a social worker at the Breast Cancer Center at Winchester Hospital, for distribution to cancer patients. Holly Walton (left) of Wilmington, founder of Heaps of Hope Inc., presents gift cards to Melinda Taranto-Garnis, a social worker at the Breast Cancer Center at Winchester Hospital, for distribution to cancer patients.
By Wendy Killeen
July 30, 2009

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After she was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2008, Holly Walton of Wilmington received care and support from family, friends, coworkers, and the staff at Winchester Hospital.

She knows not everyone is as fortunate.

So Walton founded Heaps of Hope Inc., a nonprofit dedicated to easing the burden of women affected by cancer.

In the nine months following her diagnosis, Walton, an accountant at Matrix Financial in Wellesley, had two surgeries, 16 weeks of chemotherapy, and seven weeks of radiation. She also attended a support group at Winchester Hospital.

Walton says the compassionate and expert care she received from staff at Winchester Hospital, especially Melinda Taranto-Garnis, a social worker at the Breast Care Center, “was instrumental in my recovery.’’

Her goal is for Heaps of Hope to provide inspiration, as well as financial support, to patients and their families during every stage of their journey with cancer.

Medical professionals can refer clients to the organization for receipt of gift certificates for food and vouchers for transportation to appointments and other medical expenses.

“Heaps of Hope is a wonderful resource because there is so much need out there,’’ said Taranto-Garnis, adding that the organization recently helped a patient with lapsed health insurance pay for medication.

“Holly deserves a lot of credit for turning her experience with cancer into an opportunity to help others,’’ she said.

For more information, or to make a donation, call Walton at 781-943-4100, ext. 312, or e-mail

CRANKING FOR A CURE: The Beach Bluff Cycling Club, based in Swampscott, reached its goal of raising $40,000 to benefit the New England chapter of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society by completing a two-day, 150-mile ride from Quincy to Provincetown.

This year, the size of the team doubled with 16 new members, and the money raised also doubled.

“We have been planning for the bike event for eight months and the hard work really paid off,’’ said team captain Myles Brown of Swampscott.

The cyclists were again supported by Gourmet Garden Restaurant in Swampscott, which held the team’s annual fund-raiser and contributed $3,000. Gourmet Garden co-owner Ricky Huang was recently made a Paul Harris Fellow by the Swampscott Rotary Club for “service about self.’’

“It’s incredible that we were able to raise $40,000 for MS, especially in view of today’s economic climate,’’ said team cocaptain Phillip O’Sullivan of Marblehead. “It’s a lot of hard work but that’s why we ride. We’re cranking for a cure for MS.’’

The club was formed in 2006 when a handful of cyclists joined together to participate in the Cape Cod Getaway ride. It has since grown to more than 30 members from 12 communities north of Boston.

Visit for information.

WHO’S WHAT WHERE: Ronald Guilmette of Salisbury, chief of police services at Merrimack College in North Andover, has been elected president of the Massachusetts Association of Campus Law Enforcement Administrators. Guilmette has about 35 years of law enforcement experience. He served with the Massachusetts State Police from 1968 to 1999, rising to the rank of lieutenant colonel and serving as an assistant superintendent at the State Police Academy. He also served one year as interim chief of police in Lawrence. Guilmette has a master’s degree in criminal justice and is an adjunct professor at the University of Massachusetts at Lowell and in the criminology department at Merrimack. . . . Tim Johnson, a native of Groveland, has returned to the area from Philadelphia as the new headmaster at the Pingree School in Hamilton. He previously was the associate head of school at the Springside School in Philadelphia and an adjunct professor in the graduate school of education at the University of Pennsylvania. Johnson is an avid athlete and an accomplished artist. He comes to Pingree with his wife, Jennifer Groeber, and three children.

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