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March 26, 2004 -- Each year, the resort village of Stowe offers a weekend of seminars, scenery and camaraderie exclusively for cancer patients and their families, with lodging and some transportation provided free. This year's 4th Annual Stowe Weekend of Hope (www.stowehope.org) runs from April 30 to May 2, and folks interested in attending should sign up as soon as possible.

A pencil-dot of a town in Vermont's Green Mountains, Stowe has come together for the past four years in this spontaneous and unanimous gesture. This year, the town expects 1,500 survivors and families from more than two dozen states to arrive. Survivors of all kinds of cancer are welcome.

Arriving in Stowe, patients and survivors will be able to attend seminars on cancer-related topics, nutrition, yoga and meditation given by top oncologists and other experts -- but almost as importantly, they'll be able to unwind with others who share their experiences in a supportive environment.

Frommers.com reader Mari Castrovilla wrote in with her experiences at last year's Weekend of Hope: "There is no pressure to attend workshops -- good for us who struggle with fatigue. You pick and choose what you are up to -- [from] yoga in the meadow of the Trapp Family Lodge to 'technical' sessions with doctors. There are planned fun things, some especially for children, including a free 'sampling' tour of the nearby Ben and Jerry's [factory]. I would highly recommend this weekend," she concluded.

Free transportation to the Weekend of Hope comes in form of an Amtrak "train of hope" and two "coaches of hope." The Amtrak trip, free for cancer patients and their immediate families, leaves Washington, D.C. at 7:15 a.m. on Friday morning, stopping at 15 stations up the I-95 corridor to New York and New Haven, CT, and then up the I-91 corridor past Hartford, CT and Springfield, MA. (Ignore the limit of 60 seats shown on the Weekend of Hope Web site -- Amtrak will add more cars to the train if necessary.)

The "coaches of hope" will depart from Boston, MA and Portland, ME on Friday, returning on Sunday and Monday. Lodgings are being provided by 55 hotels, inns and B&Bs in the Stowe area.

Folks coming from farther away are encouraged to fly into the nearby Burlington, VT airport and rent cars for the 50-minute drive to Stowe. Burlington is served by US Airways (www.usairways.com) and more importantly JetBlue (www.jetblue.com), so fares there aren't sky-high.

Interested travelers should sign up immediately, because space in Stowe is limited. Some workshops charge a small fee, and many events require advance reservations. Check out basic details on the event at www.stowehope.org, and then call 800/GO-STOWE to sign up. For our full online guide to Stowe, see www.frommers.com/destinations/stowe.

Have you attended the Weekend of Hope? Please share your experience with your fellow Frommer's readers on our Vermont Message Boards.