Pink balloons and ribbons filled Gargiulo’s Restaurant in Coney Island on Wednesday, Aug. 8 as over 300 local breast cancer survivors, caregivers, volunteers and civic leaders joined the American Cancer Society (ACS) in celebrating the 16th anniversary of Making Strides Against Breast Cancer.
This year’s kickoff ceremony provided community members with the opportunity to learn how to get involved in the Brooklyn cancer walk slated for Oct. 21 along the Coney Island Boardwalk and at MCU Park. It also highlighted how individuals, businesses and organizations all across the borough can support ACS’s work to help save lives from breast cancer.
Last year, 25,000 Making Strides Against Breast Cancer of Brooklyn walkers helped to raise more than $742,000.
Making Strides Against Breast Cancer is a noncompetitive event that raises awareness and funds to help end breast cancer and provide hope to ensure that no one faces breast cancer alone.
Desiree Carton, spokesperson, ACS, served as host for the evening as survivors and supporters gathered together and shared their inspirational stories about their battles with cancer.
Deena Jackson, dressed all in pink, sat in a wheelchair with a smile that beamed across her face. She thanked the staff at Brookdale Hospital for their support in her fight.
Diagnosed with an aggressive form of Stage 3 breast cancer, Jackson recounted how she was told that she was a carrier of the cancer gene like her mother before her, as well as her two daughters.
“My life changed drastically because of breast cancer,” Jackson said. “But I did not let it stop me from living and enjoying life. Everything has changed but my heart is the same and, in many ways, I am even better.”
Other inspirational stories were shared by local breast cancer survivors, caregivers and ACS spokespeople including Meagan Hallworth, community development manager, ACS, and local breast cancer survivors Tonya Mosely and Fabiola Nueva.
Nueva was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2015 at the age of 35. “I am honored to be present before you this evening and see those who had a lot to do with my recovery,” Nueva said. “Without you, I would not have had the treatments that saved my life.”
The money raised helps ACS fund innovative breast cancer research, provide education and guidance to help people reduce their cancer risk, and offer comprehensive patient support – including free lodging, free transportation to treatment and a free 24-hour information hotline.
In New York alone, 17,890 women are expected to be diagnosed with breast cancer this year.
Following the event, guests attended Hispanic Heritage Night at MCU Park, where all breast cancer survivors were recognized between the second and third innings at a Brooklyn Cyclones baseball game.