Breast Cancer Alliance delivers most successful Walk for Hope yet

The rain couldn’t keep a record crowd from turning out last Sunday to support the Breast Cancer Alliance’s effort to get Greenwich thinking pink through its annual Walk for Hope. From left,  BCA President Kathy Clark, co-chairs Nicole Ewing and Julie Genovese, Grand Marshal Ramze Zakka, co-chair Caroline Brecker and BCA Executive Director Yonni Wattenmaker. — John Ferris Robben photo

The rain couldn’t keep a record crowd from turning out last Sunday to support the Breast Cancer Alliance’s effort to get Greenwich thinking pink through its annual Walk for Hope. From left, BCA President Kathy Clark, co-chairs Nicole Ewing and Julie Genovese, Grand Marshal Ramze Zakka, co-chair Caroline Brecker and BCA Executive Director Yonni Wattenmaker.
— John Ferris Robben photo

The Breast Cancer Alliance (BCA) proved you can’t rain on its parade last week as hundreds gathered for the eighth annual Walk for Hope on a soggy Sunday morning.

The event raised more than $80,000 for BCA research and grant funding, making it the most successful walk to date and adding to the more than $17 million in grants the BCA has awarded since its establishment in 1996. Gathering in the parking lot at Richards, the event host, participants of all ages, from toddlers to grandparents, and even dogs dressed in pink, united in the fight against breast cancer.

Before embarking on their journey, walkers enjoyed a complimentary breakfast courtesy of the walk’s grand marshal and local restaurant owner, Ramze Zakka, as they shared stories and listened to the DJ. Participants also had the opportunity to visit Stamford Hospital’s mobile mammography van, which was on site and accommodated women who preregistered for mammograms. Then it was on to the one-mile stroll around Greenwich Avenue.

Yonni Wattenmaker, executive director of the BCA, said the organization was “blown away” by the event turnout. Given the dismal weather, organizers expected a small crowd, but participants continued to show up in droves, prepared with umbrellas and rain gear, Ms. Wattenmaker said.

It seems the impact of the alliance is spreading, she said, adding that although the BCA is town-based, it’s not simply a Greenwich organization anymore. Incredible participant support from Darien and Rye was visible at the walk, and the attention being paid to the organization and its purpose is expanding, she said. And though the Walk for Hope is held partly in hope of funding as many programs as possible and making BCA grants as powerful as they can be, the true purpose of the event is to spread awareness, Ms. Wattenmaker said.

Since its inception, the BCA has funded a variety of cutting-edge research grants and postgraduate breast surgery fellowships at the country’s leading research institutions along the East Coast. Grants are also directed toward high-impact breast cancer research and early detection initiatives. In an average year, 60% of BCA grant funds go to innovative research, 20% to train breast surgeons and 20% to early detection programs in surrounding communities.

Although it’s currently unknown specifically which programs the funds raised at this year’s walk will be directed toward, enough money was generated to potentially fund a $75,000 breast surgical fellowship — a vital piece of the BCA’s mission to improve survival rates and quality of life for those impacted by breast cancer, Ms. Wattenmaker said. Funding might also be used for a research grant, or for community outreach through screening, mammograms, diagnosis, and providing free services for local underserved women, she said.

It seems everyone involved in Sunday’s walk had a connection to breast cancer, Ms. Wattenmaker said. The mother of one of the event chairs and the sister of another both endured the disease. A third event chair said she simply had too many friends and co-workers battle breast cancer and she was there in their honor. Ms. Wattenmaker herself has a unique connection to the disease in that in addition to an aunt, her grandfather had breast cancer.

Even local businesses that help support the Walk for Hope have connections to the disease, Ms. Wattenmaker said. In fact, the owner of East Putnam Variety, which provides pink balloons for the event, has felt the impact of breast cancer. Aware of the current helium shortage in the country, the man drove to upstate New York to obtain more of it to ensure there were enough balloons for the walk, Ms. Wattenmaker said. When thanked for his generosity, the man told organizers that he wears a pink bracelet every day in honor of breast cancer awareness.

“I don’t think anyone [at the Walk for Hope] is untouched by breast cancer,” she said.

There were periods of pouring rain Sunday morning, but the community still came out to support the BCA’s cause, Ms. Wattenmaker said.

“The power of what people can do to is amazing, and we showed that,” she said.

The Breast Cancer Alliance is one of the largest private non-corporate breast cancer organizations in the United States. The alliance is dedicated exclusively to funding innovative breast cancer research, breast surgical fellowships and promoting breast health through education and outreach programs.

For more information, visit the Breast Cancer Alliance website at Breastcanceralliance.org or call 203-861-0014.

 

[email protected]

By participating in the comments section of this site you are agreeing to our Privacy Policy and User Agreement

© Hersam Acorn. All rights reserved. The Greenwich Post, 10 Corbin Drive, Floor 3, Darien, CT 06820

Designed by WPSHOWER

Powered by WordPress