Annual Avon Walk for Breast Cancer Chicago Raises $4.7 Million 

2,200 Women and Men Participate in the 39.3-mile Walk; Seven Local Breast Cancer Organizations Receive Grants

Chicago, June 1, 2014 – The 12th annual Avon Walk for Breast Cancer season continued in Chicago this weekend, raising $4.7 million to accelerate breast cancer research;  improve access to screening, diagnosis and treatment; and educate people about breast cancer.

The Avon Walk Chicago – the fourth of eight 2014 Avon Walks across the country – attracted 2,200 participants from 36 states and Washington, D.C., as well as Canada, the U.K. and Ireland. In addition, 276 breast cancer survivors and 329 men joined together to raise lifesaving funds for breast cancer.  

During the Closing Ceremony at Soldier Field Stadium Green, Trish Russo, a three-time breast cancer survivor and three-time Avon Walker, candidly shared her breast cancer journey with fellow walkers, volunteers, family and friends, and described why the Avon Walk is so important to her. “I’ve always loved movies. I even received my MFA in producing for film back in my 20s – and married a screenwriter! Little did I know that I’d be the main character in my very own epic story that includes a bit of drama and a lot of suspense. Six months after turning 30, I felt a lump that my doctors told me was nothing at first, but in a typical plot twist, turned out to be terrifying: a diagnosis of aggressive breast cancer that had spread to my brain,” Russo said. “Though my journey has been tough, I just got to walk 39.3 miles with the most amazing community of passionate people in the world. Someday our hard work will lead to a cure, and then we’ll roll the credits and we’ll all celebrate our happy ending together.”

Eloise Caggiano, a breast cancer survivor and Avon Walk for Breast Cancer Program Director, announced eight new grants to local breast cancer organizations, ensuring the funds raised immediately benefit the local community. “These grants represent only a portion of the funding that the Avon Foundation will distribute in the Chicagoland area and across the country this year, but we want to make sure the impact of your Walk begins today. Every grant moves us closer toward our goal of a world without breast cancer,” said Caggiano.

The Illinois and Wisconsin organizations that received grants on stage include: 

Swedish Covenant Hospital received a $100,000 grant to help provide navigation and support services for 1,500 medically underserved women undergoing screening, diagnostic testing, or treatment for breast cancer.

Loretto Hospital received a $100,000 grant to support its patient navigation services, which will help more than 500 patients this year by removing barriers and coordinating access to care.

Mercy Hospital and Medical Center received a $150,000 grant to screen more than 15,000 women and help hundreds needing assistance navigating the medical system. 

Sinai Health System received a $400,000 grant to support its patient navigation program and intensive community outreach programs to reduce health disparities in Chicago.

Northwestern University and Northwestern Memorial Hospital received two grants totaling $800,000. The first grant, for $500,000, will support access-to-care programs through the Erie Family Health Center and Northwestern Memorial Hospital, as well as a research project focused on obesity, and whether it is a potential risk factor for breast cancer. The second, a research grant for $300,000, will support research on a new drug target related to breast cancer metastasis. 

University of Wisconsin-Madison received a $200,000 research grant to study human cytomegalovirus (CMV) infections to find out whether they play a role in causing breast cancer, and if we can target CMV infections with new drugs for treatment.

Southern Illinois University received a $300,000 research grant to further develop and validate a novel blood-test to detect the presence of breast cancer and monitor for recurrence.

Also this weekend, the Avon Foundation for Women welcomed its second class of Avon Global Breast Cancer Clinical Scholars to the United States to attend the 2014 American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) Annual Meeting in Chicago beginning May 30. The Avon Global Scholars Program educates breast cancer specialists living outside the United States to help reduce the unacceptably high mortality rates from breast cancer in many countries around the world. The Scholars – 23 physicians from 14 countries –  will begin their four-eight week course of clinical training at 12 leading Avon Foundation-funded U.S. breast cancer centers after ASCO. In addition to awarding local Chicagoland area grants, the Avon Foundation will continue to provide leadership support nationally for the fight against breast cancer. Recent initiatives include: 

2014 Racial Disparity in Breast Cancer Mortality Study: The Avon Foundation funded a nationwide study in partnership with Chicago’s Sinai Urban Health Institute to determine why more black women are dying of breast cancer than white women in 39 of the largest U.S. cities. The study revealed that Chicago had a large and widening racial disparity in breast cancer mortality.

Metastatic Breast Cancer Alliance: The Avon Foundation is leading a new metastatic breast cancer alliance of 20 breast cancer agencies that are working to discover better ways to help those living with the disease and reduce deaths due to breast cancer recurrences.

Breast Cancer Start-Up Challenge: The Avon Foundation, The Center for Advancing Innovation, and the National Cancer Institute partnered to create a business start-up challenge to fast-track ten promising breast cancer research discoveries. The inventions were conceived and developed by Avon Foundation grantees and scientists at the National Cancer Institute.

Avon Comprehensive Breast Centers and Breast Health Outreach Programs: Through Avon Walk donations, the Avon Foundation continues to fund seven Avon Comprehensive Breast Centers across the country, accelerate breast cancer screening and treatment at 55 Safety Net Hospital Programs, provide financial assistance and counseling support nationwide through AVONCares at Cancer Care, and educate the public through 58 Avon Breast Health Outreach Programs. All Avon Safety Net and Breast Cancer Outreach Program grantees commit to providing their services to everyone – no matter their insurance status, demographic background or ability to pay.

About the Avon Walk for Breast Cancer Chicago

The Avon Walk for Breast Cancer Chicago began on Saturday, May 31 at 6:30 a.m. with an inspirational opening ceremony at Soldier Field Stadium Green. Participants then walked 26.2 miles through the Chicagoland area, supported by an all-volunteer crew and cheered on by supporters. They spent Saturday night at the Walk’s “Wellness Village” at Horner Park, featuring pink two-person tents, hot showers and meals, entertainment and volunteer medical services, as well as leisure activities such as yoga and a spa zone with mini-back and foot massages.

On Sunday, June 1, after completing the Avon Walk’s final 13.1 miles, participants joined family and friends to celebrate their achievement at the closing ceremony back at Soldier Field Stadium Green where the new grants were awarded.  

Get Involved with Avon Walks for Breast Cancer

The Avon Walk for Breast Cancer Chicago was the fourth of eight walks taking place around the country this year. Registration is open for the remaining 2014 Avon Walks in the following cities: San Francisco (July 12-13), Santa Barbara (September 6-7), New York City (October 18-19) and Charlotte (October 25-26).

For more information on the Avon Walk for Breast Cancer, visit www.avonwalk.org or call 888-541-WALK.  To learn more about the Avon Foundation for Women visit www.avonfoundation.org

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REMEMBER, EARLY DETECTION HELPS SAVE LIVES.  Get a mammogram.  Know your breasts and report any changes to your doctor.  Talk to your doctor about your risk.  And encourage women around you to do the same.  Don't forget, men can get breast cancer, too.  

For breast cancer information and resources, visit avonfoundation.org.  

The Avon Walk thanks National Sponsors Reebok and ORION Holdings, 

Official Sponsors: Tiger Balm, Cadillac, City Winery Chicago, Conquer Cancer Foundation, and

Local Sponsors: Northwestern Memorial Hospital, Superior Ambulance Service, and the Great American Bagel

Follow the Avon Walk for Breast Cancer: