Inside a tent in front of the new Bloch Cancer Survivor Plaza, attendees of the unveiling rubbed their hands and nursed steaming cups of coffee. At a chilly 25 degrees outside, with icy rain pattering against the tent's plastic walls, there was little hope that the clouds might break to let a little sunshine illuminate the towering kite sculptures, broad pathways and stone markers of the plaza.
However, "hope" was the word of the morning, and a little inclement weather couldn't hinder the unveiling ceremony conducted by Boise Parks and Recreation Director Doug Holloway, Boise Mayor Dave Bieter, and cancer survivor and R.A. Bloch Cancer Foundation co-founder Annette Bloch on Thursday at 11 a.m. in the eastern end of Julia Davis Park.
"Cancer is a word, not a sentence," Bloch said to the approximately 75 attendees to the unveiling. "There is a life after a diagnosis of cancer."
The plaza consists of a pathway lined with stone markers featuring inspirational messages, a kinetic wind sculpture by Mark Baltes and a mosaic work in the center by local artist Anna Webb.
Boise's is the 25th Bloch Cancer Survivor Plaza in the United States and Canada, and it is the first in the Northwest. Funding for the plaza was provided by a $1 million grant from the R.A. Bloch Cancer Foundation—$900,000 for the plaza itself and an additional $100,000 endowment to maintain the park over time.
Bieter told the crowd that cancer has, in some way, touched the life of nearly everyone, and that the new installation sends a message of hope to those fighting the disease. He was also impressed with the new plaza.
"It turned out nicer than any of us imagined," Bieter said.