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Prescription for Healing
Richard Bloch's cancer survivors parks aim to inform and inspire patients to fight the disease. Do they help?
By Rebecca Fish Ewan

In 1978, Richard Bloch, cofounder and honorary chairman of H&R Block tax preparation services, was diagnosed with terminal lung cancer and given three months to get his affairs in order. Instead of tidying up before dying, he sought a second opinion, found a doctor who guided him through aggressive treatment, and after two years was declared cured. Since then, and through a second battle with cancer, he and his wife, Annette, have devoted their lives to helping people survive cancer.

photo by Chris Faust

What does this have to do with landscape architecture? Plenty. Among the many support and educational services that the R.A. Bloch Cancer Foundation, Inc., provides is the cancer survivors park program that has created several small parks across the country. To date the foundation has funded 17 parks to completion, 2 are soon to open, and 7 more are in the works. "There is enough to build 52 more parks in large metropolitan areas," says foundation administrator Vangie Rich. The foundation, solely funded by the Bloch family, pays for the development of the parks, excluding monies needed for land acquisition, and will also provide a perpetual maintenance fund for repairs and refurbishing park elements. The funds vary depending on the scope of the proposed project and the size of the metropolitan region. Parks in urban areas with a population of more than one million will be awarded full funding ($1 million), while a city of 100,000 is only eligible to receive a sculpture and plaques. Most of the parks are spearheaded by a cancer survivor who has seen another park or heard of the parks on the foundation's web site (www.blochcancer.org) or through word of mouth. The construction and park maintenance are typically managed by local municipalities, such as city parks and recreation departments.

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