Armed with banners, buttons, balloons and pink hearts, students came together Saturday with members of the Ithaca community in support of the fight against breast cancer on the Commons.
Sponsored by the Ithaca Breast Cancer Alliance (IBCA), Walkathon 2001 raised over $38,000 dollars, the largest sum collected to date. The money will be used to IBCA support programs and services for women and their families affected by breast cancer.
IBCA, which was founded in 1994 by a group of women with breast cancer, provides all its services free of charge, and must independently raise 90 percent of its budget each year.
In previous years, the Walkathon has had over 1,500 participants, and this year is expected to yield an even larger turnout. The final count will be calculated during the week. Walkers came from all reaches of the Ithaca community including children, high school and college students, adults and grandparents.
Young Noah Bach, riding on his grandfather’s shoulders, walked for his grandmother, a breast cancer survivor.
Aaron Raitiere ’04 volunteered at the Walkathon, helping hang posters and signs, and walked for his mother who was diagnosed with breast cancer last Thanksgiving.
“I’m doing this for my mom,” Raitiere said. “You never know what a serious thing it is until it hits you.”
Circle K volunteers manned a booth that passed out “honor hearts” — on which participants could write the name of the person for whom they were walking — as well as pink sashes that were worn by breast cancer survivors.
“It’s so nice that so many people showed up despite Homecoming,” said Nathaniel Berman ’02, a Circle K volunteer. “It’s fantastic that students are here volunteering and walking. It makes you have faith in the community again.”
Spirits were high on the two-mile walk that began at the Center Ithaca Pavilion in the Commons, and ended at the Women’s Community Building on Seneca Street.
Elizabeth Hess, a nurse practitioner at Gannett: University Health Services and a breast cancer survivor, organized a group of Gannett staffers to walk together.
“I have raised funds and donated money in the past, but this year we wanted to provide some solidarity from Gannett,” Hess said. “Besides, its always more fun to walk in a group.”
Following the walk, a rally was held at the Women’s Community Building, in addition to a student rally at DeWitt Park. The Alpha Kappa Delta Phi sorority, whose national philanthropy is breast cancer awareness, prepared food for the walkers.
“We do this annually, and it is great to see all the support,” said Jinnie Shin ’03, a member of the sorority. “This is my first year, and I never imagined it would be this big.”
A group of Cornell Resident Advisors (RA) also participated in the rally, and Jessica Skrebes ’04, an RA whose aunt is a breast cancer survivor, said she was impressed with the turnout.
Another RA, Sarika Modi ’03, said, “It’s nice to see Ithaca come together, as you sometimes feel isolated on the Cornell campus.”
Andi Gladstone, director of IBCA, opened the rally explaining that organization of the Walkathon 2001 began the week of Sept. 11.
“We were caught up and frozen in place by those events and we didn’t know if we could continue with the Walkathon, but there were continued diagnoses and people continued to come to IBCA for services and support,” Gladstone said. “We were met only with encouragement and open-heartedness which allowed us to go forward.”
Archived article by Sarah Willey