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Community supports cancer survivors, raises funds

Photo for the Mirror by Alyssa Fasolo / Kenley Sullivan (left), Aiden Dashner and Madison Goshorn make crafts at one of the booths set up in the stadium.

In the face of challenges, communities often come together.

On Sunday, Peoples Natural Gas Field was transformed into a sea of pink as Making Strides of Central PA held its annual breast cancer walk.

For the past 20 years, breast cancer survivors have walked side by side with family members, friends, community members and local organizations to raise money for cancer research.

“It’s a great thing for the community. It brings a lot of people together,” said Linda Hinton, a breast cancer survivor and the co-chair of Making Strides Against Breast Cancer of Blair County.

The planning for Sunday’s event began in February. From there, teams began to form and fundraise, and community members donated online. The walk attracted about 40 teams and a total of nearly 1,000 participants.

Photo for the Mirror by Alyssa Fasolo / Participants of the Making Strides of Central PA breast cancer walk wind their way around Peoples Natural Gas Field on Sunday.

Prior to the start of the event, approximately $46,173 had been raised, with the total increasing as the event progressed.

The walk kicked off with a special performance for survivors by Charlene’s School of Dance.

Inside the stadium, teams and local organizations donated items and set up fundraising tables to sell baked goods and other merchandise. After a warmup on the field led by health coach Tammy Taylor of Bedford, the walk stepped off at 2 p.m.

Participants wound their way out of the stadium and through Lakemont Park before making it back to the outfield for a final victory lap.

A feeling of hope and support was prevalent throughout the day for all those involved.

“The biggest thing is the support that people feel,” Jenn Kush, community development manager with the American Cancer Society, said. “I’ve seen so many people crying tears of happiness — not only when they come with their families, but when they look around and see that sea of pink and see other survivors, they feel so much warmth. They see this community standing behind them.”

The Making Strides committee is grateful for its many sponsors and donors who help to make each cancer survivor feel loved and supported.

“That’s the way I felt, and that’s the way I want everybody to feel with an event like this,” said Audrey Korotkin, a breast cancer survivor and co-chair of Making Strides Against Breast Cancer of Blair County. “We are all walking for you, we are here for you, we are all here to support you, every single one of you.”

Many of the volunteers at the walk say that they are inspired by the survivors they meet and the events that they witness throughout the day.

“Every year we look forward to it. It’s one of the best events we volunteer at,” said Taylor Wheelock of Zeta Tau Alpha, one of the event’s national sponsors.

“It’s very inspiring,” Marissa Calhoun added. “We have a children’s area we’re sponsoring now as well, so it’s cool to see the younger aged people getting involved to support their family members.”

Through the annual walk, people are inspired each year to get involved and help.

“It’s important for people to know they’re not alone, and there are local resources,” Korotkin said. “(The event) grows itself when you see neighbors and friends here for each other.”

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