LACONIA — The American Cancer Society Making Strides Against Breast Cancer initiative is hosting a 3.5 mile non-competitive fundraising walk, with a five mile option, on Sunday, Oct. 19 at 10 a.m.. The walk will begin at Opechee Park in Laconia, and will help the society do the most for people with breast cancer today to end the disease tomorrow.
Making Strides walks in nearly 300 communities nationwide, help to raise $60 million dollars for the American Cancer Society each year to save lives. The dollars raised fund groundbreaking research to find, prevent, treat, and cure breast cancer; ensure access to mammograms for women who need them; and provide free resources and support to the one in two newly diagnosed women who turn to the society for help and support, including transportation and lodging during treatment.
As of Friday there were 47 teams and 355 participants registered to take part in Sunday's event at Opechee and more than $34,195 had already been raised by participants.
Top fundraiser at that point was Diane Skilling of The Di'Namics with $1,905, followed by Vicki Fournier of the Big or Small, Save Them All team with $1,220 and Terri Higgins, also of The Di'Namics, with $1,210.
The Di'Namics led all fundraising teams as of Friday morning with $4,890, followed by the Moultonborough Women's Club with $4,463.64 and the Gilford Volleyball Team with $3,365.34.
Skilling says The 'Di'Namics Team was formed in 2004 by her sisters when she was first diagnosed with breast cancer.
''It is hard to believe it's been 10 years. I am doing great in that regard, although I had a little 'hiccup/recurrence' in 2006. I am happy to continue raising money to continue the fight to, hopefully, eradicate this disease that does not discriminate,'' says Skilling, who is in her 60s and says that her goal, and that of many other participants, is to ''celebrate more birthdays.''
She says her treatments included both chemotherapy and radiation and urges all women to be diligent in getting mammograms every year.
''Our small team of 10 now has five breast cancer survivors. Sunday's event is our opportunity to honor breast cancer survivors, remember people we have lost, and help raise funds for groundbreaking research, information and services for people fighting breast cancer, and mammograms for women who need them,'' says .
Vicki Fournier of the Big or Small, Save them All team, is also a breast cancer survivor and comes from a family with a history of breast cancer.
''My mom died of breast cancer in April 2001. I was diagnosed with breast cancer in March 2012. I have the triple crown: ER, PR & HER2. I have finished treatments and am cancer free. This was the biggest battle of my life and if it wasn't for my in-laws, cousin (Karen) and many friends I do not think I would have made it though. Thank you all for your love, words of encouragement and support'' says Fournier.
She says that Making Strides not only provides an opportunity to join the community to fight back against breast cancer, but it is also a way to inspire hope by raising funds and awareness to help those facing the disease.
''That's why I'm walking, for my mom, me and every woman out there, Get your mammograms, do your self exams. Early detection saves lives,'' says Fournier.
"Making Strides Against Breast Cancer unites us to walk together as the most powerful force to end breast cancer," said Erinn Drouin, American Cancer Society staff partner for the Greater Lakes Region "The progress we are making is remarkable, but we need volunteers to help us finish the fight."
Drouin says that today one of every two women newly diagnosed with breast cancer reaches out to the American Cancer Society for help and support. The donations raised by the teams will help more than 2.9 million breast cancer survivors celebrate another birthday this year.
''Saving lives from breast cancer starts one team, one walker, and one dollar at a time. We know that the American Cancer Society is the leader in the fight to end breast cancer. We know that supporting them will ensure that if you need someone to talk to anytime of the day or night, they'll be there. If your friend is losing her hair from chemo, your mother needs a ride to treatment, or a loved one needs a place to stay when treatment is far from home, they will be there to help,'' says Drouin.