Alachua County is 'Making Strides Against Breast Cancer'
Published: Sunday, October 7, 2012 at 1:16 p.m.
Last Modified: Sunday, October 7, 2012 at 1:16 p.m.
The pink hard hats read “Caution, Under Reconstruction.” The women wearing them range in age from their early 20s to their late 80s.
If you go
What: Ninth annual Making Strides Against Breast Cancer event
Where: Northeast Park, 400 NE 16th Ave., Gainesville
When: Saturday, Oct. 13. Registration is at 7 a.m.; walk begins at 9 a.m.
For Team Rosenberg, the hats are a badge, given to patients to wear in the Making Strides Against Breast Cancer event.
Dr. Jason Rosenberg, a breast reconstruction surgeon in Gainesville, created the team in 2007 and has participated every year since. He’s raised close to $50,000 over the course of five years. Last year, his team raised nearly $8,000.
“For us, it’s a celebration of all of the other women who have gone through breast cancer reconstruction,” Rosenberg said. “We encourage our patients to participate so that they can be a voice of breast cancer awareness.”
Gainesville’s ninth annual Making Strides Against Breast Cancer event takes place Saturday, Oct. 13, at Northeast Park, located at 400 NE 16th Ave. Registration begins at 7 a.m., and the walk at 9 a.m.
This will be the second year with the “Put On Your Pink Bra” theme, exclusive to Florida. Participants are encouraged to decorate pink bras and wear them over their clothing the day of the walk.
Some teams even hold bra-decorating parties.
“The bra is a symbol of how personal breast cancer is,” said Amanda Granozio, Gainesville community representative for the American Cancer Society. “It’s a symbol of solidarity.”
Preparation leading up to the event included recruiting teams and sponsors, keeping teams updated with information and helping teams promote their fundraisers, which range from bake sales and car washes to “dress-down” days, VIP parking spots and pink hair extension parties.
The 5k walk will begin in the park and go through the Duck Pond neighborhood.
A significant portion of the event is geared toward survivors, according to Granozio. On the day of the event, survivors will have access to a VIP tent area where they will be offered food, water and specialty treatment.
Last year, 2,000 people participated in the walk and raised $169,000. This year, organizers are aiming to sign up 2,000 to 2,500 people and raise $177,000. Most of the proceeds go to breast cancer research and patient services, such as Look Good, Feel Better, Reach to Recovery and Road to Recovery.
“We’re hoping that this year it really reflects the diversity of the community and that we get as many businesses, churches and people to join,” Granozio said.
While Rosenberg doesn’t treat men, he said men who support his patients — boyfriends, husbands and friends — also walk.
“They often feel like they can’t do a whole lot,” Rosenberg said. “They can’t give chemo, they can’t perform surgery. But what they can do is be supportive.”
Rosenberg stressed the importance of early testing. “The earlier we get people diagnosed, the better and more effective the treatment,” he said.
American Cancer Society volunteer Tina Johnson’s mission is to inform fellow co-workers about cancer and cancer prevention.
Johnson has been on the board of the American Cancer Society for the past eight years and, during that time, she has seen several of her girlfriends diagnosed with breast cancer.
“I’ve become more involved, more passionate,” she said. “And I’ve become more knowledgeable.”
Breast cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer in women, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
As the incoming vice chair, Johnson works with staff and partners at the American Cancer Society to organize the Making Strides Against Breast Cancer event.
“It takes people from all walks of the community to make this event a success,” Johnson said.
The walk has gotten bigger and more successful, she added. Making Strides Against Breast Cancer continuously puts emphasis on the need for more research and the need for support. Johnson herself tries to give out information on a regular basis.
“I ask people, ‘Have you ever had a mammogram?’
‘Why haven’t you?’”
To get involved, visit www.putonyourpinkbra.com/gainesville. It’s free and open to anyone to sign up and create a team.