ROGERS -- An estimated 2,000 participants, volunteers and supporters turned out Saturday for the Susan G. Komen Northwest Arkansas/Ozark More than Pink walk and fundraiser at the Pinnacle Hills Promenade.
"I thank people just like you for keeping me strong and giving me hope," Bentonville businesswoman Susan Woodward told the crowd during the event's opening ceremonies. Woodward had no family history of breast cancer, she said. Then when she felt sick and went to the doctor, tests found her breast cancer had spread to her lungs, bones and liver, and, since then, her brain, she told the group.
"Not long ago this would have been hopeless news," Woodward said. Now she is responding well to treatment and goes into her eighth chemotherapy session on Monday "with hope and confidence," she said, thanks in large part to the research supported by Komen. The Susan G. Komen group is a worldwide nonprofit organization founded in 1982. To date, the group has raised $3.6 billion to help pay for research, community health outreach, advocacy and programs in more than 60 countries.
Deaths from breast cancer fell 43% since 1989, according to the group's figures, thanks in large part to treatments, screening for early detection and awareness raised by the Komen group. The walks are annual fundraising and awareness events held during October, which is national breast cancer awareness month.
These walks are a three-generation family tradition said Makayla Reyes of Fayetteville. This is the first year a member of the family stands to benefit directly as a cancer patient, she said. "My grandmother was diagnosed last November," Reyes said. Janese Reyes, 70, of Temecula, Calif., discovered the cancer very early, Reyes said. The same grandmother started the family tradition of participating in the walks because she had friends who had the cancer. "She had her 70th birthday yesterday," Reyes said of her grandmother, who is doing well. The elder Reyes' cancer is being treated with radiation without the need of chemotherapy, her granddaughter said.
Arkansas raises about $500,000 a year for these events with this year's goal for the region being $200,000, said Alisa Pope of Oklahoma City, the Komen foundation's development director for Oklahoma and Arkansas. "We're about halfway there," she said, with the fundraising drive lasting through Nov. 7.
The top team at fundraising announced during Saturday's event was Tyson Distribution, a division of Tyson Foods. This Tyson team raised $11,994 as of Saturday, according to the event's website. Top individual fundraiser was Megan Eads of Fayetteville with $2,923.40 as of Saturday.
An estimated 1,200 people from among the crowd took part in the 1.7 mile walk around the outdoor mall, according to Pope. The predominant color worn by walkers was pink, a Komen tradition, but the garments and other adornments in that shade and others ranged from tutus to cowboy hats and wigs.
The support shown at events like the walk matter greatly to cancer survivors, said Adora Curry, a cancer patient from central Arkansas who spoke at the event. Saturday's walk was not the first she participated in, Curry said, but is her first as a survivor.
"My mental survival depended on my community," Curry said. Humor, in particular, was important. Cancer survivors, like any close-knit group, have their inside jokes, she said. They also learn important lessons -- such as what to use to secure wigs after hair loss from chemotherapy.
NWA More Than Pink walk
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