Student groups join thousands in walk against cancer

On Sunday, Sept. 30, Geneseo students joined Rochester citizens in a walk supporting breast cancer research through the American Cancer Society.

This fall has been marked by uncharacteristically warm weather for upstate New York, extending the time that people can enjoy the outdoors without the need for multiple layers of clothing. On Sunday, the conditions were again perfect for being outdoors, which amplified the turnout for the 11th Annual Making Strides Against Breast Cancer walk.

Making Strides Against Breast Cancer is a noncompetitive three-mile walk sponsored by the American Cancer Society to raise funds and awareness for breast cancer. The money goes towards research, prevention, early detection and support systems for patients and their families, according to the American Cancer Society Web site. Over 9,000 people (including many Geneseo students) gathered at Rochester's Frontier Field to participate in this year's walk, trumping the attendance of the event in past years.

The walk also took place in Buffalo, Syracuse, Waterloo and Binghamton, raising a total of 1.8 million dollars with Rochester at the forefront raising $710,000, topping their accumulation of $685,000 last year.

Breast cancer is an important cause to many, as the disease is the fifth-leading killer of all cancers and affects millions of people each year. In Monroe County alone, 587 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer this year, with 114 expected to die from the disease. However, there are also an estimated 2.5 million breast cancer survivors living in the United States.

The walk (like many American Cancer Society events) focuses on a message of hope. "We had hundreds of survivors at the event who truly know how important this money is," said Sadie Mueller, a Geneseo alumna who now works at the American Cancer Society's Lakes Region office in Rochester. "Many of them are survivors because of research funded by the American Cancer Society. It was a great day - the weather was beautiful and there were so many reasons to celebrate,"

SUNY Geneseo students were well-represented at the walk. "It meant a lot to see such a huge turnout, especially from so many Geneseo students considering the ungodly hour," said sophomore Megan Stetzel, a member of the Royal Lady Knights. Other than RLK, various sororities and sports teams were also represented.

The women's swim team has made community action an annual tradition, participating in the Making Strides Against Breast Cancer walk for the past two years as well as the Alzheimer's walk last year. "Even though the sports teams have a collective community service project that we can do (raking leaves), we think that doing these walks reflects positively on our school and our team's willingness to participate in community events," said Maren MacDonald, a senior on the swim team. MacDonald also mentioned that the swimmers surpassed their initial fundraising goal, collecting over $2,000.

Geneseo's chapter of Colleges Against Cancer and the sororities Delta Phi Epsilon and Alpha Omega Pi also each had teams, with some members of Delta Phi Epsilon volunteering along the walk course as well.

The Making Strides Against Breast Cancer walk is the largest source of fundraising for breast cancer research, education, outreach programs and patient services in the Rochester area, and aims to increase its productivity every year. Mark Cronin, regional vice president for the American Cancer Society's Lakes Region, summed up the feeling of the day. "Hope starts here. Making Strides Against Breast cancer is not just an event, it's what we do."