Hundreds unite to fight against breast cancer

Ramona Gaudett of Dover waves as she begins her one – mile walk at Dover International Speedway during the Eighth annual ‘Monster Miles for a cause’ walk on Saturday. (Delaware State News/Marc Clery)

DOVER — Three weeks after tens of thousands of NASCAR fans descended on Dover International Speedway a small army of pink gathered outside the track Saturday morning.

The 300-plus people were not there for sports but for a cause that engenders just as much passion: the fight against breast cancer.

Cancer killed about 596,000 Americans last year and no type of cancer is as common or as notorious as breast cancer.

One in eight women will develop breast cancer at some point, according to the Delaware Breast Cancer Coalition.

That, advocates say, is why events like Saturday’s Monster Miles for a Cause are so important.

The eighth annual event raises money for several groups, including the Breast Cancer Coalition. More than 300 men, women and children clad in pink arrived at the speedway before 10 a.m. for a one-mile walk around the track.

Participants, most of them survivors of breast cancer or know someone who has battled the disease, are urged to raise money for the coalition. Even before the walk started, the fundraising had already surpassed last year’s total of $12,000.

Walkers round turn one during their one – mile walk at Dover International Speedway at the Eighth annual ‘Monster Miles for a Cause’ walk on Saturday. (Delaware State News/Marc Clery)

“I’m expecting this to be one of our biggest years,” said Lois Wilkinson, the coalition’s education and survivorship program manager.

The sunny weather helped turnout, she said, noting last year’s event took place on a rainy day.

After the walk participants gathered in Victory Lane as organizers handed out trophies recognizing people who raised the most money. The top individual donator collected more than $2,000 for the coalition.

With the walk 10 days before Halloween some people wore costumes as well. A trophy was awarded for best costume.

The crowd was in an upbeat mood and attendees spoke of uniting to fight cancer. At least 30 breast cancer survivors took part, as well as a half-dozen or so people currently battling cancer.

Cancer survivor Jeralin Rochester of Dover poses at Dover International Speedway. (Delaware State News/Marc Clery)

“It’s amazing, all the support,” said Lori Holveck, who is fighting stage four breast cancer. “Complete strangers will come up, give you a hug. All the support that you need. Everyone is awesome.”

Anissa Brown, who will be two years’ cancer-free next month, cited “a sense of community” the walk creates.

Margaret Wright, who has had family members and friends who develop breast cancer, pointed to “the amount of support” given to survivors and people currently struggling against cancer.

Ms. Wilkinson, herself a 15-year survivor, said there is a bond between attendees.

“Knowing you’re not alone, that’s probably the biggest thing,” she said.

Terri Brown,left, and Barbara Cannon with the Books Boobie Brigade start their one – mile walk. (Delaware State News/Marc Clery)

Some people wore tiaras or tutus, while one woman was dressed as a witch and another as a cookie. A few groups made their own shirts, but almost everyone was outfitted in pink.

Suzy Harper was part of a large group of people honoring their friend Olga, who died two years ago from breast cancer but was so committed to the cause she attended the walk near the end of her life and was wheeled around the track, Ms. Harper said.

Events such as the walk, Ms. Harper said, can help inform and courage women to get checked for cancer.

Tom Connelly, who attended along with his wife, Joyce, and the couples’ costume-wearing dogs Toby and Daisy, shared a similar sentiment.

The occasion, Mr. Connelly said, “means there’s hope for other people.”

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