Making a Difference: Students, community come together for Johnstown Walk of Hope

JOHNSTOWN - The Johnstown Walk of Hope had a successful first year.

"We raised over $30,000," said Johnstown Walk of Hope coordinator Marlene Singer.

This, after the American Cancer Society decided not to have a cancer walk in Johnstown.

Marlene Singer, along with other team members, started their own walk last year and kept the money raised locally.

"UPMC, Conemaugh Cancer Center, Joyce Murtha Breast Care Center and we started the Children Are Precious Fund, which helps families with children go out of town for treatment," Singer said.

While the event proved to be a positive one, Singer felt it still needed a boost.

Looking to the University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown and its students, Singer and marketing professor John McGrath saw an opportunity to help bridge the gap that's often seen between the city and university.

"You really got to link the university and community together. And I think the students appreciate working on a real-worldproject that they can take into a job interview and say, 'I worked on this, this is what I did.' It's a tangible evidence of their work experience," said McGrath.

"They need to feel more connected to the Johnstown area. And they're coming from all over," said Singer.

Selling wrist bands and T-shirts are just part of the improvements that were made from three students. All three are in McGrath’s class and are interns this semester for the Johnstown Walk of Hope nonprofit.

"I redesigned the whole website. I added a photo gallery, contact information on the event itself, where the money goes, how to donate, how to join a team," said UPJ sophomore Abbey Watson.

"And my goal with the flyers was trying to get everybody connected to this cause and keeping hope close to home, Johnstown is home," said UPJ freshman Laura Johnson.

For most students, being at school is like a four-year home, which is why it’s no surprise these interns are already looking toward the future.

"Everything is laid out for next semester to basically have a mini-walk on campus with the same kind of idea to broaden the audience the Richland area, as well as UPJ,” said UPJ sophomore Eric Hood.

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