EVERETT — The American Cancer Society is known for their community events bringing awareness and funding to cancer research, and in Snohomish County one of those events is the annual Making Strides Against Breast Cancer walk.
This year, the walk was hosted on Sunday, Sept. 30 in Everett and thousands of local supporters participated.
“We had approximately 1,500-plus community members from all over the North Sound attend or participate in our event this past Sunday at the Snohomish County Courthouse Plaza,” said Elise Mcculloch, event coordinator. “We have currently raised just over $110,000 and counting. All the money raised at the Making Strides Against Breast Cancer events throughout the country and globally goes to our programs, research projects and advocacy strictly surrounding breast cancer.”
Although Relay for Life and other ACS-sponsored events bring awareness to cancer as a whole, Making Strides was the first to focus on just breast cancer.
“This event is special because it is the only event the American Cancer Society does where all the money raised goes directly to one type of cancer services and research,” said Mcculloch. “Throughout the event we are able to not only raise money, but also to spread awareness about this disease and promote prevention and early detection. Our mission here at the American Cancer Society is to save lives and create a world with less breast cancer and more birthdays by helping people stay well, helping people get well, by finding cures and fighting back. We are able to do all this through this one event.”
For one local woman, Sarah Devereux, Making Strides is also about honoring loved ones.
“I became involved with Making Strides and Relay for Life and other ACS events because of my mom,” she said. “My mom was diagnosed in 2009 with stage 4 breast cancer.”
Devereux participated with her mother, Helen, in the Making Strides Against Breast Cancer walk before Helen passed away in the summer of 2011.
“She battled for two-and-a-half years,” said Devereux. “It’s really important to honor her memory and raise awareness and funding in our community. I was honored to fight by her side, through chemotherapy and radiation. It changed my life forever.”
Devereux continues to participate in Making Strides to honor the memory of her mom. This year her team, “Helen’s Relay Heroes”, raised $270 during the walk.
“Making Strides gives our family a special time and event to honor my mom and her breast cancer battle, which she lost last year at age 63 after two-and-a-half years. This event is important and inspirational for us, especially my sons, to remember and celebrate their grandma,” said Devereux. “Strides is also a time to have fun, get some exercise, “Think Pink,” raise awareness, fundraise for research and American Cancer Society programs, and, of course, to encourage and celebrate all breast cancer survivors. After participating each year, I am always renewed with hope and optimism. Making Strides is a great analogy to life — even when we have to face obstacles, like a cancer diagnosis, we have to put one foot in front of the other and keep moving forward. Let’s all move forward toward a cure.”
Arlington resident Caryn Brown was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2009, and started participating in Making Strides after finishing her treatment.
“The reason we do it is because it is a local event to bring awareness in our area, and it’s another celebration day for our family,” said Brown.
The North Sound Making Strides walk supports breast health locally, keeping donations in the area.
“What this means is that the money will go to local breast cancer programs such as ‘Look Good, Feel Better,’ Reach to Recovery, Road to Recovery, which is associated with breast cancer patients, and resources provided by our 800 number,” said Mcculloch. “Also, that money will help to fund research that is related solely to breast cancer. One example of this would be in the past this money has gone to researchers such as Dr. Mary-Claire King who discovered the BRCA1 gene that now helps to detect breast cancer at an earlier stage.”
Local businesses turned out in support of the event and breast cancer awareness by decorating their store fronts and wearing pink uniforms.
“This year, we were able to get some local businesses involved by ‘painting them pink.’ We have businesses along the route pink out their windows, lobbies and staff for our event to not only support and make it more fun for our participants, but also help raise awareness about our event and breast cancer,” said Mcculloch.
Brown agreed that the color of the event gives her an overwhelming sense of support and appreciation.
“I love walking down Colby Avenue and seeing a great big wall of pink,” she said. “As a survivor, that is very meaningful. It’s like everyone is saying, ‘Wow, look what you’ve been through, look what you’ve done.’”
Mcculloch thanked those who came out and supported the ACS in their fundraising efforts for breast cancer research.
“With the help of our wonderful sponsors and participants this event was a great success and there is still time to help,” she said. “Our event just kicked off the month of October, which is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. We are still encouraging our teams and participants to fundraise and invite anyone to donate to this amazing event. All the information can be found on our website, northsoundstrides.org and donations can be made right there online or mailed into our office.”
For more information visit www.northsoundstrides.org or visit the ACS office of Everett at 728 134th St. SW, Suite 101, Everett.