A new challenge for a great cause

Published 6:15 pm Friday, October 8, 2021

A virtual challenge is set for Suffolk to support those with brain tumors.

With Intentional Kindness and Support is hosting the WINKS Virtual Challenge to promote awareness, raise funds and promote kindness. The challenge will run from Oct. 15 through Dec. 15. Registration will remain open through Oct. 22.

To participate, folks can choose to do the 120-mile challenge or a 5K. Participants have the two-month period to complete either challenge. As they log progress, folks will also learn facts about brain tumors. Along the way, folks are encouraged to participate in the WINKS Intentional Act of Kindness. This part is free, and folks don’t have to share what act they did — only that they did one — to help keep track of how many were done during the challenge.

Goals for this year’s challenge include 120 acts of kindness for the 120 different types of brain tumors and 18,600 miles for the estimated number of people who will die from brain tumors in 2021.

“Because less than 1% are diagnosed, many may never know a brain tumor patient,” said Sam Hunter, president of WINKS. “That’s why part of our mission is to share the story of its impact.”

Hunter founded WINKS in 2015 after being diagnosed with a brain tumor after retiring from the U.S. Navy as a lieutenant commander. After receiving help from her support system, she realized many who receive a similar diagnosis often fall between the gaps.

WINKS earned its nonprofit status in August of 2019. Since the COVID-19 pandemic started soon after, the 2020 challenge was also virtual. Hunt decided to remain virtual again this year to allow people to participate at their own comfort level.

The money raised will go toward WINKS’ income-based grant program, Empathy in Action. This grant provides up to $1,000 to brain tumor patients and caregivers to assist with related expenses and tangible support.

“Every little bit helps with the patients and their caregivers,” said Hunter. “Between 100 to 120 will be diagnosed in Hampton Roads this year. Many are living with it, and many will lose their lives this year. It’s a devastating disease that impacts patients both physically and mentally. It doesn’t discriminate, as it impacts every demographic — kids, adults, all races and genders.”

The program currently gives a grant each quarter. Hunter hopes in 2022 to give one out monthly, meaning a $12,000 goal for this year’s WINKS Virtual Challenge.

To learn more, get involved or become a sponsor, visit runsignup.com/Race/VA/Suffolk/WINKSChallenge.