With a spring in their step, walkers Make Strides Against Breast Cancer

INDIAN RIVER COUNTY — Approximately 1,000 walkers, sporting colorful pink-hued outfits, packed the parking lot of the Sebastian River Medical Center Saturday morning, awaiting the signal to begin the 2010 Making Strides Against Breast Cancer (MSABC) walk.

Bright sunshine and cooler temperatures drew record attendance at the event, chaired again this year by cancer survivor Annie Grace Foster. The non-competitive nature of the walk lures all ages, from infants in strollers up to the elderly in wheelchairs.  But they all have one common goal – putting an end to the words, “you have breast cancer.” Typical of so many for whom the walk is personal, a large group of family and friends of the late Patti Caywood had teamed up in her memory.

“She had breast cancer for three and a half years, and died three months ago today,” said husband Curtis Caywood. “She fought it all the way; never gave up.”

Some carried signs representing loved ones while many others had the names of those they were honoring listed on their t-shirts.

The Buggy Bunch, a non-profit group of mothers, had 50 walkers participating, most pushing strollers.  “We wanted to walk for moms,” said Kelly Sartain.

During a brief ceremony prior to the walk survivor Pam Doughey told the crowd about her breast cancer journey, commenting that she now sees things very differently.

“I decided to get really proactive,” said Doughty. “I decided to do everything in my power to raise awareness.”

And proactive she was.  According to team recruitment chair Terri Schmalfuss, Doughty was the top fundraiser for MSABC.

“She doubled most of us,” said Schmalfuss.  “It’s just awesome.”

Final figures will not be known until the end of the month as contributions continue to accrue, but, at the start of the walk, Schmalfuss’ Friends Fighting for Friends team and Marilyn Kolar’s Moorings Lifesavers team were the other two top fundraisers.

With a long pink-ribboned stream of walkers poised behind them, cancer survivors gathered under a billowy pink and white balloon arch and led off the walk, demonstrating their defiance of the disease.

Millions of walkers nationwide participate annually in MSABC, the only American Cancer Society event where monies collected are dedicated to a specific initiative.  Funds raised are specifically dedicated to help fight breast cancer through research, prevention, early detection, and support programs for patients and their families. {igallery 276}

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