Making Strides Against Breast Cancer Raises Over $220,000

By Jennifer L. Warren

CENTRAL VALLEY – It takes two things: Your faith and being positive. These are the two critical avenues to fighting breast cancer according to 13 year survivor Wanda Velez. Clad in pink, Velez, could once again be found passing out tee-shirts and providing huge doses of love and support at Sunday’s Woodbury Common’s “Making Strides Against Breast Cancer” event. The proud survivor has been coming to the Walk and assisting for the past two years; the day continues to touch her heart in numerous ways.

“I’m always so inspired to be here because of the tremendous strength I see; at the same time, I am saddened by those who are no longer here,” said Velez, a Walkill resident and hairdresser, who also volunteers her time doing wig fittings at the American Cancer Society. “It’s always nice to see the support of friends and family, and this year there seems to be so many more survivors than in the past.” Reflecting further, Velez added, “No matter what, when you get diagnosed, your faith is super important, and you have to stay very positive and have no pity for yourself; I’m just so amazed and happy about the increased survivor rate.”

Part of that higher survivor statistic is credited to the extremely hard-working  volunteer efforts and resulting monies raised at events similar to Sunday’s Walk. Thousands could be spotted at the Commons, surrounded by crystal blue skies, bright sunshine and ideal, crisp fall temperatures. Throughout the morning, an assortment of vendors, from bakers providing pink cupcakes, to comfy pink-hued clothing accessories, to information on critical mammograms provided by Crystal Run and Orange Regional Medical Centers, filled the Premium Outlets locale.The Cornwall High School Choir as well as a DJ from local radio statio, WHUD, provided musical entertainment. The upbeat melodies prompted many to get up and energetically dance to the beat on the Main Stage area. Football players from Monroe-Woodbury High School volunteered their efforts, handing out water to walkers as well as cheering them on with high fives and encouraging words. All were bonded by a common mission: to help find a cure. A tangible positive, supportive atmosphere dominated; it was one complete with smiling, hugging, and walking for a disease that has or had in some way touched the life of each person in attendance. “A Celebration of Survivorship,” which expresses hope and shared determination, Making Strides continues to grow in momentum and influence each year.

“I come for the spirit of being with the walkers; it’s for a good cause, being with survivors and family that lost people with cancer,” said Evelyn Torres of New Windsor, who was making her fourth appearance at the Walk, which covers the perimeter of the Commons. “This event is extra special this year because of the sheer numbers, more survivors than ever before.”
This year 369 teams and 2,564 participants, raised $220,414.04. All monies will go to the American Cancer Society, which will assist in continuing the hard-fought battle against Breast Cancer. The hopes are more survivors attend next year’s event, and ultimately that Breast Cancer becomes a reality of the past.

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