Even the Ithaca gray sky seemed a little brighter Saturday afternoon when over 600 spirited people came to walk at the Ithaca Breast Cancer Alliance’s (IBCA) ninth annual walkathon. The nearly iridescent pink armbands worn by breast cancer survivors flashed inspiration to their fellow walkers as they marched from the Ithaca Commons to the Ithaca Women’s Community Building, where a post-walk rally was held.
Many Cornell groups participated in the walkathon, including several sororities, the Absolut a cappella group and Cornell’s juggling club.
At the post-walk rally, organizers introduced for the first time the Andi Gladstone Distinguished Speakers Fund. The fund, named in honor of the co-founder and previous executive director of the IBCA, will bring speakers well-known in the field of studying breast cancer to the Ithaca area, said Board Member Jane Segelken.
The walkers’ pledges and local donations comprise the primary means of fundraising for the IBCA, and all the money raised stays within the community, Executive Director Christine Sanchirico said. This year, walkathon organizers initially estimate that the event has raised over $40,000, with more pledges expected to arrive within the next several weeks.
According to the walkathon’s organizers, this year the walk was more important than ever to raise money for the continuation of services provided by the IBCA because county funding — a usually reliable source of funding — has not yet been granted this year.
Moreover, large corporations, “don’t prefer to support grassroots organizations,” Sanchirico said.
Money raised by the walk will also be essential as the alliance looks towards increasing involvement in advocating breast cancer prevention. Currently, over 750 people in Tompkins County live with breast cancer, according to Sanchirico.
Amidst posters stating, “Prevention is the cure” and “Fight breast cancer,” walkers strolled along the two mile route.
Kate Walton ’05 of Alpha Omicron Pi sorority, said she participated in the walkathon “to spread awareness about breast cancer and the importance of being healthy.”
Another participant, Monica Ravas, a Cornell staff member, said she participated “in support of all others who have [breast cancer] today.”
Many participants wore pink hearts strung around their necks which read, “I’m walking for [blank].” The blank was often filled by names of people, such as, “my grandma,” “my mom,” and simply, “my friend.”
Ithaca College student Melissa Abramson walked in remembrance of her aunt who passed away from breast cancer last spring.
“Any little bit that anyone can do makes a difference, even if it’s just to support other people,” Abramson said.
Dan Lamb, district representative for Congress also spoke at the rally. His closing remark reflected the sentiment of the many stories told by breast cancer survivors.
“[You have] a real treasure of an operation here,” he said in regard to the IBCA.
Archived article by Liz Goulding