Breast cancer walk raises awareness

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Photo credit Kaitlyn Jones

On a hot Saturday afternoon, over a hundred girls, wearing various articles of pink clothing, poured out of their cars. Although they seemed tired and exhausted, they all had smiles on their faces, laughing to each other as they hauled jugs of Powerade and packages of cookies. This was not a picnic, but rather a show of support for breast cancer awareness by the girls cross country team.

 

On Oct. 22, after their state meet at Carrollton, the TrailCats joined hundreds of other people in the Susan G. Komen 3-Day Walk for the Cure, a nationwide event dedicated to finding the cure for breast cancer.

 

The Susan G. Komen Foundation for the Cure was founded in 1982 by Nancy G. Brinker, after her sister Susan lost her life to breast cancer. This global organization has since become the leader of the fight against breast cancer and has an impressive network of over 100,000 volunteers, all of whom work together to save lives. The main source of donations comes from participants in various runs and walks, including the 3-Day Walk for the Cure, taking place in fifteen different U.S. cities. During the walks, there is a sweep bus that takes those who are injured or unable to continue to rest stations located along the road. Official cheering stations are also set up by the program coordinators in order to provide the walkers with nourishment and rest stops, should participants need to take a break.

 

The walk itself is about 60 miles, meaning that most walkers average about 20 miles per day. Some find it strenuous, but are nevertheless determined to persevere.

 

“I felt like it was the most physically and emotionally draining experience of my life,” said trainer Angie Koich. “I did it because my best friend’s mom got diagnosed with breast cancer when we were in high school. She beat it, and then it came back a couple years ago, and now she’s stage IV – it was for her and her family.”

 

In order to support Koich and her rally against breast cancer, the TrailCats raised over $350 through donations from team members. Additionally, the girls formed an unofficial cheering station for the walk in Atlanta. This is the first time that the entire cross country team has taken part in the 3-Day. However, last year, a group of about fifteen girls from the team participated directly as walkers in the event in Phoenix, Arizona, along with team coach Amy Eubanks. While they enjoyed their experience as walkers, the girls also enjoyed rooting on their teammates.

 

“It was definitely different, because we weren’t participating,” said junior Martha Stewart Fuqua. “Our favorite thing when walking were the cheerers.”

 

She and the rest of the girls who walked in Arizona then had the idea of involving the entire cross country team by including them all as supporters.

 

“We wanted to be the surprise ones that people don’t know about,” said Fuqua. They took the idea to Coach Eubanks, who immediately agreed.

 

“I wanted [the walkers] to have the same experience that we had in Phoenix the year before,” said Eubanks.

 

The girls supplied everything from pink pipe cleaner rosettes, to cookies, to jugs of Powerade.

 

“Our group gave out pink ribbons for the shoes. I remember when I got them, I thought it was the coolest thing ever,” said Fuqua. “Since I was able to pass that on, it was almost like keeping the tradition going.”

 

The girls cheered on the participants just like they cheered each other on at their cross country meets, encouraging them and providing them with refreshments. Among the walkers were faculty at Westminster, including junior high English teacher Carter Thomas, and mothers of several students. It was a great moment of connection as the cheerers embraced their friends and family.

 

“I was really proud that our cross country team and school were represented in such a fine fashion,” said Eubanks.

 

She was also happy that the girls were able to interact with the walkers and learn more about breast cancer awareness in such a positive, firsthand way. Armed with knowledge, the team hopes to become more involved and participate in the walk again next year.

 

“Just seeing our girls finally begin to understand what it’s all about and have a little bit of the experience as a walker, to see more about it and to see more about what they can do – that excites me,” said Eubanks. “I’m really pleased that we did it.”