The Paper Cranes walk their way to $500,000

Jeanette Voss and her husband, Dan Bean.
Jeanette Voss and her husband, Dan Bean.
For some, raising some money to fight cancer is enough. For others, walking 26 miles in honor of a friend is enough. For Jeanette Voss of Shelburne, however, raising money for cancer research and supporting friends by walking the Boston Marathon Jimmy Fund Walk was never enough. The tireless effort by Voss and her team, The Paper Cranes, brought them the disctincion of receiving a $500,000+ Team Lifetime Achievement award for their work over the past twelve years. The team was recently honored at an Extra Mile Brunch in Boston this month.

Voss has lived in Shelburne for 42 years, and during that time, she has known loss and walked through it many times. After the death of her husband, her dear friend Ginny Starr, who helped her through that difficult time, passed away from cancer, an experience that Voss said was traumatic. When she heard of the Boston Marathon Jimmy Fund walk, she said, she knew she had found an outlet for her grief. “I wanted deeply to remember a dear friend,” she said, “to be physically challenged to prove how much I cared, and I wanted to make a difference by raising as much as possible to help fund research and care. That became my mission and my passion.”

The Walk has raised, through 9,000 walkers, over $8.2 million dollars for the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston; The Paper Cranes raised almost 1/16th of that amount. Five team members walked every year: Bill and Carole Hauke from Colchester, Maryjean Kalanges from Essex Junction, Voss, and her husband, Daniel Bean, from Shelburne. Bill Hauke, who had walked so many times for others, lost his life to cancer last year.

Over the years, the team ranged in size from five to 17, and every year each walker had their purpose in mind with every step they took. “Our team has trained together for twelve years, over 4800 miles, on many different paths and in all kinds of weather,” Voss said. “We’ve supported each other knowing this is something worth continuing. Everyone has their own story, and each is important.  As a team we all have family and friends who have suffered through the diagnosis and treatments of cancer.”

The team’s name comes from the book “Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes” by Eleanor Coerr, which tells the story of a Japanese girl who had leukemia. Before her death, she tried to reach the goal of folding 1,000 paper cranes, which legend said would grant her one wish. Hers was to live. The Paper Cranes walked far more than a thousand miles and raised many times that in their quest to find a cure for cancer. Voss said, “We were committed from the beginning to be pacesetters, walkers who earned, through donations, over $1500 a year.”

Voss credited the Haukes with a great deal of the Cranes’ success, and said that the couple’s matching donations year after year “raised our team levels beyond anything we could have imagined…I know that Bill was very proud of this legacy and we are proud to be a part of it.”

Teamwork was a major component to the walkers’ successes, even though walking 26 miles is an individual task, Voss said, “each determined to make their own contribution to fighting cancer requiring personal sacrifice, personal donations and donations from committed supporters. I am so very proud of all of them.  They help to create the hope and joy we walk to make a reality.”

For reasons of time, expense, and other factors, last year was the final time The Paper Cranes walked together. Some team members will continue the legacy, whether it’s walking with other teams or on their own, and Voss said she hopes to bring her efforts a little closer to home. She will register with Dana-Farber for the official walk this year, but complete her miles in Vermont. In the future, she said, “I will continue to walk for the many causes I am passionate about–Dana Farber, COTS, Alzheimer’s–and I would love to consider the possibility of walking a marathon walk in the Burlington area for Dana Farber.”

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