More than 300 people took to the streets of Damariscotta for the Making Strides Against Breast Cancer Walk held Sunday, Oct. 25.
The walk is one of nearly 300 taking place across the country to benefit the American Cancer Society. Since the first official walk in 1993, more than 11 million walkers have participated and more than $685 million has been raised to research and treat breast cancer.
Mash Sutton, one of the local liaisons for the event, said she was worried the cloudy weather would deter walkers from participating, however, she said the day was an overall success.
“Every year we get a few more people involved,” Sutton said.
Two-time breast cancer survivor Mary Craig, of Bristol, addressed the crowd at The First in downtown Damariscotta before the walk began. Craig thanked the participants for the difference they were making for those who have breast cancer or might have it in the future.
“As a survivor we want to see others survive too,” Craig said. “I felt I’ve been given a second chance at life, and I encourage you to live life to the fullest.”
Sutton said $47,000 had reportedly been raised for the event, however, the final amount will not be known until after the online pledges have been collected. Proceeds from the walk will be donated to the American Cancer Society for breast cancer research as well as educational and preventive efforts.
“I’d love to say breast cancer will be cured tomorrow, but that’s not true,” Sutton said. “The most important thing is to keeping checking yourself and to be aware.”
Raising awareness is one of the reasons Jane Scharff, team leader of the Boothbay Region Garden Club’s team, participates in the walk. Scharff had what she described as a “personal eye-opening moment” when one of the male members of her family was diagnosed with breast cancer last year.
“All of us have a close friend, a family member, or someone we know who has been diagnosed,” Scharff said. “It needs to be known that men can and, in fact, do get breast cancer, too.”
Terri Judson, of Cushing, was joined by her sister-in-law, Janet Plona, also of Cushing, and her sister, Katie Sessions, of Fort Smith, Ark., for this year’s walk. Judson, a six-year survivor of breast cancer, and Plona have participated in the walk for six years. This was Sessions’ third year making the trip up from Arkansas to join them.
“We walk to support her and everything she’s overcome,” Sessions said.
Sutton, a 14-year survivor of cancer herself, said she will continue to be involved with the walk for as long as she can.
“When you do events like this, you realize just how many people have been touched by the disease,” Sutton said.