The City of Memphis, Division of Park Services was pleased to announce the grand opening of the Richard & Annette Bloch Cancer Survivors Park on November 26th at 2:00 p.m. The public was invited to attend the grand opening of the park where Mayor Willie W. Herenton, Annette Bloch, Former City Councilman John Vergos and cancer-survivor Sandy Paterson were scheduled to speak.
Over ten years ago, several cancer survivors embarked on a mission to bring a Cancer Survivors Park to Memphis. Through a $1 million dollar grant from the R. A. Bloch Cancer Foundation, this mission has been completed. The Memphis Cancer Survivors Park has been carved out of 2 acres of Audubon Park and is located on the west side of the Botanic Garden, across from Theater Memphis. This is the 23rd Cancer Survivors Park that has been funded national.
The R. A. Bloch Foundation grants funds for parks that will encourage, inspire and celebrate survivorship. While all the parks are unique to the cities in which they are located, they all share three elements which the Bloch Foundation also donates to the parks:
- A sculpture created by Mexican Sculptor Victor Salmones that consists of eight life-size figures passing through a maze depicting the cancer journey.
- A “Positive Mental Attitude Walk” containing fourteen plaques – four of which are inspirational and ten containing suggestions for fighting cancer.
- A “Road to Recovery” that consists of seven plaques explaining what cancer is and some actions to take to overcome the disease.
The Memphis Cancer Survivors Park was designed by architect Dianne Dixon, artist Kristi Duckworth, and landscape architect Mike Lemm, with assistance from Park Services landscape architect Keith Schnadelbach. In addition to the above elements it will include a labyrinth, garden, a series of butterfly statues, and a mosaic. The park is designed to help visitors find their way through focused walks, prayer, and contemplation.
Vangie Rich, from the R.A. Bloch Cancer Foundation, describes the labyrinth as “a pattern unlike any other, much like that of every person’s individual cancer. It presents the opportunity to clear the mind and refocus on what is important and that is the successful outcome of treatment. It is a reminder that we can follow the path and succeed no matter how puzzling it may look at the beginning”.
Wildflowers are planted throughout the park to attract butterflies and local artist Yvonne Bobo created a series of butterfly statues which are stationed along the walkways. The butterfly is a symbol for transformation signifying hope. It begins its journey as a caterpillar, turns into a chrysalis, and must struggle before emerging as a beautifully delicate winged creature.
Overlooking the labyrinth is a “Tree of Life” mosaic designed by Duckworth. She involved the community in the creation of this piece, getting cancer survivors and families touched by cancer to help paint individual tiles that will fit into the mosaic.
For more information on the Bloch Foundation, go to www.blochcancer.org.