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Ramble and Amble: Walking for Grandpa

Tears still come easily for Kim Cummings and Marilyn Ciancanelle, especially when they think just a little too long about their father and husband, Michael Ciancanelle, who died in late February.

Known to many around the community as simply, "Grandpa," Michael Ciancanelle was an avid supporter of the American Cancer Society's Ramble and Amble fundraiser for more than a decade. A cancer survivor for more than a decade, he spearheaded a golf tournament that raised approximately $70,000 in the past 12 years. In honor of his efforts, this year's fundraiser is dedicated to his memory.

A pet project

Marilyn -- known, fittingly, as "Grandma" -- said her husband began raising funds for Ramble and Amble because he thought it was a good cause. He was a golfer, she said. An enthusiastic one. One day, he decided he wanted to hold a golf tournament and donate all of the funds raised to Ramble and Amble.

That first year was a new venture, and the funds raised only amounted to $77. But Michael was determined -- after all, he had just survived prostate cancer and had proven he was a fighter. The enthusiasm was apparently contagious, because in subsequent years, the tournament took off.

The tournament started out with just a piece of paper and a pencil to keep track of the books, but Cummings has now taken over the bookkeeping.

Even though Michael passed away last winter, the tournament went on as planned this summer. There was one difference, though: the name had changed.

"We renamed it Grandpa's Tournament, because that's what people called it anyway," Cummings said.

The plan is for Cummings and her brother to continue to hold the tournament. That should not be too difficult for them, since both are supporters of the American Cancer Society, as well.

A family affair

"Cancer has really touched this family," Cummings explained. "I'm a three-year survivor."

Cummings said other siblings have been touched by cancer, as well as their grandparents.

She has done the Ramble and Amble walk for 16 years, and spent several of those years as a volunteer for the event. This year, though, she begged off.

"I opted to sit out this year because of dad's illness," she said.

But still, the contributions Michael made to Ramble and Amble have not gone unnoticed -- nor have those of the rest of his family. Marilyn and Cummings were surprised, but also honored, when committee member Gretchen Bergman came and told the family this year's walk would be in Michael's memory.

"Gretchen informed us this is what they wanted to do because he was so involved when he was able," Marilyn said.

Cummings keeps a couple of pictures of her dad at her desk at the Farmington Eagles Club, where she is manager. While they talk about him, both she and Marilyn pick up one, then the other, and look at the big smile on his face. The tears come to Cummings first, as she looks at one picture of her father taken outside the club a few years ago, when he presented a check to Ramble and Amble.

"It was really near and dear to his heart. He worked really hard at it," Cummings said.

Seeing her daughter well up, Marilyn's tears come quickly, too.

"He died just short of our 58th anniversary," Marilyn said. "He was kind of loved in our family."