Emory Report

August 28, 2000

 Volume 53, No. 1

Emory walks for breast cancer research

By Eric Rangus

Several Emory Healthcare staffers will be among nearly 3,000 walkers who will journey 60 miles from Lake Lanier to Atlanta as part of the Avon Breast Cancer 3-Day, a unique event staged to raise awareness and funds for breast cancer research.

The Sept. 22­24 walk will benefit nonprofit breast health programs throughout the country, as well as contribute to cutting-edge medical research on women's diseases.

In March, the Winship Cancer Institute and Grady Hospital received a $2.2 million research grant from the Avon Breast Cancer Crusade. The institute was one of five centers to receive the funds, much of which was raised through previous 3-Day walks.

"We're very fortunate to have a major grant beneficiary here in Atlanta, where we are having the walk," said Nicole Preston, managing director for Palotta TeamWorks, the creator and producer of the event.

Not content to simply smile and request a donation, Emory Healthcare staffers have been raising money for several months in order to take part.

So far the Emory staff's fundraising effort has brought in about $14,850-and not always in the most formal of manners.

"I've received checks for $250 and $5. I've even had people stop me in the hall to give me a dollar," said Rachel Fried, assistant director of business development at Emory Healthcare and coordinator of the effort.

She is one of the Emory walkers, which began as a core group of five but has risen to 11. Eight other identified Emory volunteers will serve as crew members supporting the trek.

Fried said that the first donation of $157 came from Michael Dumas and the environmental services department at Emory Hospital. But despite several months of fundraising, the group is still short of its original $36,000 goal.

"We still need to raise about $5,000 for 11 of us to participate," Fried said. "We're happy to take cash donations, but if you use a pledge form and write a check or use a credit card, you'll get a receipt for your tax-deductible gift."

Pledge forms are available from Fried who can be reached at 404-778-7821 or rachel_fried@emory.org. Further information also is available on the event website at www.breastcancer3day.org.

Kerri Spencer, a nurse practitioner at Crawford Long, also is participating in the event. Spencer signed up to walk and soon after discovered a lump in her breast during a self-exam. She was diagnosed with the disease this past January and completed treatment in the spring. Her cancer has been in remission since June.

She said that the 3-Day walk is extremely important in generating awareness. "The earlier it is diagnosed, the better your chances of survival," said Spencer, 42. Her disease was caught early.

None of the volunteers has any formal fundraising experience, but that hasn't stopped them from putting forth a concerted effort to drum up funds.

Recently the walkers, along with several volunteers, posted themselves near the cafeterias at Crawford Long and Emory hospitals, Wesley Woods and several other spots on campus and collected around $1,000.

Walkers will average about 20 miles a day, then camp out at night. Trekking 20 miles on foot is no picnic, but the walkers will be well taken care of. They will spend their evenings in specialized tent cities and receive hot meals and hot showers. They will also find regular pit stops along the way during the day with snacks, water and toilet facilities.

The route begins at Lake Lanier, then winds its way through residential areas to Camp Rivergreen, where the walkers will spend the first night; then to Wade Walker Park in Stone Mountain, where walkers will camp the second night. The finish line will be at Piedmont Park.

Since its inception in 1998, Avon's 3-Day walks have raised more than $20 million in net proceeds to fight cancer.

The last 3-Day walk took place in San Francisco at the end of July, and in June 3,000 walkers in Chicago raised a record $7 million for breast cancer research. After Atlanta, two more events remain in 2000: New York (Oct. 13­15) and Los Angeles (Oct. 27­29).

"This is an extraordinary undertaking, and everyone's support is needed and appreciated," Fried said.

Walker registration closed in June, but specialized medical volunteers (nurses and physicians, particularly podiatrists and massage therapists) are still needed to serve as support personnel. Volunteers are encouraged to call 404-257-5553 for information.

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