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Making strides

Annual walk to raise funds for breast cancer research set for Oct. 20 at Tanger Outlets

October 15, 2012
By Chuck Ballaro - Special to the Breeze , Cape Coral Daily Breeze

You don't need to be super athletic or competitive. All you need is a pair of walking shoes and maybe a pink bra.

The American Cancer Society and Tanger Outlets on Summerlin Road in Fort Myers will host the 2012 Making Strides Against Breast Cancer of Lee County event on Saturday, Oct. 20.

Registration begins at 7 a.m., with the walk beginning at 8.

October is Breast Cancer Awareness month, and nationwide thousands of events are held to bring awareness to the disease and raise funds so that one day a cure can be found.

Darla Betzer, executive director of the American Cancer Society in Lee County, said this is a way to get the community together for one walk, but with a small twist.

"This year we have a walk and survivor component. Breast cancer survivors will lead the walk and we'll hold a breakfast for them to celebrate them and their caregivers," Betzer said.

Even more than a week before the event, the walk has reached its sponsorship goal of $55,000 and is looking to reach its fundraising goal of $203,000, which Betzer said should be met.

And for those who have been actively campaigning, for every $100 raised online until Oct. 20, those names will be entered into a drawing to win a new iPad.

Also, for every $500 raised, that team will be put in a drawing to receive a $500 gift certificate to the Diamond District, with no limit on how many times you can be entered.

Betzer said that Cape Coral has done its share to help the fight against breast cancer by having the ACS at several recent events.

"We're at the Sunset Celebration, did the Baubles and Bling event and made $5,000. About $40,000 to $50,000 will come from Cape Coral," Betzer said. "Considering the event isn't in Cape Coral, they're passionate about the fight. More people continue to make the hike to the Tanger Outlets."

The "Bangles, Bubbles & Bling for 'The Girls'" was held in Cape Coral on Sept. 29.

Betzer said some of the key sponsors have been Premiere Oncology, 21st Century and Lee Memorial Health System, Iberia Bank and LCEC. Among the Cape Coral businesses have been the Ice Cream Club, Gulf Middle School, and Del Tura of North Fort Myers.

The theme this year is "Put on your pink bra," which has allowed the ACS to reach a new generation of men and women, Betzer said.

"We've been holding bling parties to raise awareness. It brings younger folks to the mix to identify the importance of this campaign," Betzer said.

According to the ACS, in Lee County last year, it provided more than 4,500 individual services, such as rides to clinics and free lodging.

Among those it has helped is Judith Crago of Cape Coral, who has twice battled breast cancer and will be at the Oct. 20 walk as a volunteer.

She said ACS gave her a better attitude about herself after the chemotherapy made her lose her hair by providing wigs and make-up.

"The Look Good, Feel Better program makes a difference. It takes a lot to get through six months of chemotherapy," Crago said. "It gives you an attitude adjustment. I could never have done this myself."

Making Strides Against Breast Cancer is the American Cancer Society's signature walk dedicated to eliminating cancer and raising awareness about the programs and services it provides. The event will have 3,000 walkers on site and there are more than 135 teams that have already signed up, Betzer said.

The Lee County walk started in 1998 and in the last five years, participation has increased around 10 percent and fundraising has improved almost 60 percent. Natinally, 8 million walkers have taken part in 270 communities, raising nearly $460 million, according to statistics provided by the ACS.



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