October 30, 2000

Ithaca Breast Cancer Alliance Holds Walkathon

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Over 1,000 people bundled up and walked two miles around the Ithaca Commons on Saturday to help the Ithaca Breast Cancer Alliance keep its doors open. The organization’s sixth annual Walkathon raised an estimated $37,000 for the center, along with unanticipated state funds.

“All of the profits go directly into services that are free,” said IBCA Coordinator Pam Mackesey ’89. “We are a grassroots organization — we fundraise 90 percent of the budget.”

“I’m walking for all women,” Fay Gougakis said. “I’m also walking for the environment. If we don’t help the environment, we will keep getting cancer, and ovarian cancer and all sorts of cancers.”

Several of Cornell’s fraternities and sororities also participated in the event.

“It was amazing how many people wanted to be involved,” said Melissa Sarno ’02, a sister in the Alpha Omicron Pi sorority. “It felt good to help such a great cause.”

In addition to walking, the Alpha Omicron Pi sisters each donated $5 for the event and sold pumpkins on campus, raising approximately $700 for the center.

After the walk, a rally took place in the Women’s Community Building. Four speakers, including State Sen. Jim Seward (R-50th) and Assemblyman Marty Luster (D-125th), addressed the audience.

“The money raised from all of you is important,” Seward said. “The most important thing is the people behind the numbers, the people we are trying to help. It is something we share the common bond in.”

In his speech, Seward announced a $125,000 contribution from the New York State Senate and a $100,000 contribution from the State Assembly.

Luster was happy with the turnout from young adults. “I want to thank you for participating, your commitment,” he said. “They are learning the joy of looking beyond themselves and helping others.”

“I’m glad they had this [rally] afterward,” said Elana Goldstein, a senior at Ithaca College. “I don’t think that walking is enough. This shows that there is a strong support and I hope that is raises money. It is good to have an ideology dream, but we need money for research and awareness.”

The Alliance offers many free services, including support groups, a quarterly newspaper, library resources, a hotline and “buddies” to accompany patients on doctor visits.

“We provide an information network for women who have had breast cancer and for family members,” Mackesey said. “The problem is that it is so terrifying. When you have breast cancer, you need as much info as you can get. We try to provide a helpful information support system for people.”

“This is a disease that affects all, rich or poor,” Luster said. “There is no other place in the region that provides these services.”

Mackesey started to organize the event last April.

“It is really six months of work on and off,” she said. “If everyone collects a little, we end up with a lot. We want to people to become involved and to learn about breast cancer.”

Archived article by Kelly Samuels