Sunday, September 28, 2008

What It Means To Be A Pacesetter

For the last two years in a row, I have had the honor of being a Pacesetter for the American Cancer Society. A Pacesetter is a person who raises more than $2,500 for the annual Making Strides Against Breast Cancer walk in October. In 2007, 115 Central Park Pacesetters raised more than $560,000 -- 20% of the $2.9 million raised.

Last week, the ACS hosted a reception for Pacesetters to share fundraising tips and stories about what inspires them to Make Strides every year.

Making Strides Against Breast Cancer 2007: Me and my friends in Central Park.

For some, participating in the five-mile event is a rite of passage after surviving breast cancer. A five-year survivor spoke with pride about being one of the top 5 Pacesetters, while a three-year survivor said she is now proactive about taking care of her health, working for the first time ever with a nutritionist to maintain an cancer-fighting diet.

It’s a family affair for other Pacesetters. One man talked about the fundraising competition between him, his wife -- a one-year survivor -- and one of their daughters. Their other daughter has tested positive for the BRCA-2 gene, which means she has a higher risk of developing breast cancer.

Many of the Pacesetters present, like me, Make Strides because breast cancer has taken someone they loved. One woman said she walks in memory of her grandmother, another spoke of honoring her late sister. I’ve been walking for more than a decade in memory of my beloved mom, who lost her battle with breast cancer at the age of 57.

The 2007 Memorial Wall at Making Strides Against Breast Cancer.

Every year, I put my mom's name up here.

During the reception, ACS Regional Vice President Maureen Fitzgerald told a chilling tale of how the economic downturn is affecting cancer patients. She spoke of a woman who doesn’t eat on the days she goes for treatment -- because she can’t afford both food and the cab ride home.

As Maureen said, it’s during economic periods like this one that it’s more important than ever to support the American Cancer Society, and to continue working toward the day when cancer will be a thing of the past.

After she got sick, my mom told me that she believed there would be a cure for cancer in my lifetime. I want to do whatever I can to help make her prediction come true. Every dollar raised for the ACS counts, so click on the link to the right and help make a difference in the fight against cancer.

Making Strides Against Breast Cancer will take place on Sunday, October 19th. For more information about the walk, visit

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