The fight to end breast cancer starts with a single step.
Breast cancer survivors and supporters across the nation are unitingonline this month to celebrate the fight to end breast cancer.
Hundreds joined a virtual event this weekend to attend the public celebration with the American Cancer Society. ACS started Making Strides Against Breast Cancer to unite communities in the fight against the deadly disease. Today, Making Strides is the largest network of breast cancer awareness events.
This year, the annual celebration looked different due to the pandemic. Usually there would be a large event with hundreds of attendees dressed in all pink parading through Cascades Park in Tallahassee as a part of Making Strides Leon. This year, Making Strides was a virtual event. Nonetheless, the passion to end breast cancer was the same so you could still spot supporters at the park getting their strides in.
Folks were encouraged to still walk in their own groups, and document their strides on social media using the hashtag #strideslive to unite.
The livestream began with Louise Santosuosso, executive director of American Cancer Society, announcing this was the first ever national celebration broadcast for Making Strides. Surrounding her were pinked out cars and supporters cheering and shaking their pink pom poms in celebration for the event.
“Even though we all can’t be together this year we’re bringing that Making Strides spirit right to you today,” Santosuosso said. “That’s right. We are going coast to coast to celebrate our amazing breast cancer survivors and thrivers and we will spotlight communities taking up the fight in new and unique ways.”
Clips from supporters across America were shared showing their support for breast cancer awareness and research. Folks from New York, Michigan, Wisconsin, Georgia, Florida, Puerto Rico, Texas, and Louisiana all showed their supportto kick off the celebration.
A powerful musical performance was presented by Kirk Franklin and his choir.
The livestream ended with various breast cancer survivors sharing their stories and encouraging the viewers to continue to make donations.
Santosuosso reminded viewers that all of their support helps them fund the future of breast cancer research and advanced critical programs and support for breast cancer survivors, patients and caregivers across America.
Jenny Nash, breast cancer survivor, said this weekend’s event was important to her.
“I was diagnosed and had a double mastectomy in January of 2014 and when you get that diagnosis you’re just petrified,” Nash said. “Then I went through 52 weeks of chemotherapy. During that time, American Cancer Society provided wigs for me. It was chilly that January and February when I started losing my hair. So it’s super important to me to raise funds for research and for local support. I don’t think people understand how much they’ve done here locally with Making Strides for Breast Cancer.”
Nash participated in Sunday’s event by creating a fundraising chain that her peers can donate to.
“Every year since I was diagnosed, I created a chain called ‘breast friends’and we have been fundraising every year. Even though I was a little late to the party, we’re doing pretty good so far and even though the event was virtual we can raise money for Making Strides through Dec. 31.”
Wendy Benedict, community development manager of the American Cancer Society in Tallahassee, was proud of the turnout.
“I think they did a great job covering different areas of the nation, age groups as well as caregivers and honoring survivors. Hearing personal stories always make the biggest impact,” she said.
When asked about what she is hoping to see in the future for Making Strides Leon and the American Cancer Society, Benedict said she is eager for an even larger turnout in 2021.
“I am hoping to see us all back at the park and walking together side by side. I hope next year will be our biggest year ever here in Tallahassee,” she said. “There is such emotion, celebration and remembrance at a Making Strides event and I can’t wait to celebrate together.”
Sign up for Making Strides throughout October until Dec. 31 to raise funds digitally at.