Chicago, IL --- More than 3,500 participants in this weekend's Avon Walk for Breast Cancer Chicago raised
$8.2 million for access to care and finding a cure for breast cancer, making it the largest event and the most ever raised at any Avon Walk since the series launched in 2003. At today's 3:30 pm closing ceremony at Soldier Field, the Avon Foundation announced initial grants that were immediately awarded to local organizations thanks to the women and men who walked up to 39.3-miles over Saturday and Sunday.
During the Avon Walk Chicago, walkers had a choice of walking a marathon (26.2 miles) or a marathon and a half (39.3 miles) over the weekend. The event kicked off Saturday, June 3, with an opening ceremony at Soldier Field and an immediate reminder of the impact of breast cancer from speaker Donna Pelletier, a one-year breast cancer survivor from Warrenville, IL. Pelletier was diagnosed with stage IV breast cancer in April, 2005. Prior to her diagnosis, Pelletier participated in an Avon Walk as a way to stay in shape. After her diagnosis, last year's Avon Walk took on a new meaning as she went through her own battle with breast cancer.
"Last year, during some of my worst chemo days, I stood by the road with my bald head and passed out lifesavers to walkers at the Avon Walk event," Pelletier said, "I did this to help them understand the importance of what they were doing. They were saving lives, including my own."
This year, Pelletier walked alongside those for whom she cheered in 2005 as a survivor herself.
After Pelletier's speech, walkers began their journey with the support of a volunteer crew every step of the way. Participants spent Saturday night in two-person tents in the Avon Walk "Wellness Village" at Warren Park, complete with hot showers, prepared meals, entertainment, comprehensive medical services and other special services. On Sunday, June 4, walkers completed another 13.1 miles, concluding with the celebratory closing ceremony back at Soldier Field.
To participate in the Avon Walk Chicago, each walker raised a minimum of $1,800 in donations, which will be managed and disbursed by the Avon Foundation [a 501(c)(3) public charity]. Funds raised by participants of the Avon Walks are awarded to local, regional and national breast cancer organizations to support five areas of the breast cancer cause, including awareness and education, screening and diagnosis, access to treatment, support services, and scientific research. Donations are still accepted for the Avon Walk Chicago and registration is open for the rest of the 2006 Avon Walk events at 800-510-WALK or www.avonwalk.org.
ABOUT THE AWARDED GRANTS
The grants awarded at the close of the Avon Walk include the following, with additional grants to be awarded throughout the year:
The American College of Radiology Imaging Network (ACRIN) received $1.2 million to fund a national clinical trial on the use of MRI for breast cancer diagnoses, co-led by researchers at Northwestern University.
Northwestern University, the Avon Foundation's flagship breast care center in Chicago, received $1 million for research into how breast cancer metastasizes, to support a clinical trial to identify new ways to treat and prevent breast cancer, and to strengthen access to care for underserved women in Chicago.
The University of Illinois at Chicago received $500,000 to launch the Avon Foundation's prevention research initiative to understand the natural ways pregnancy seems to change a woman's risk of breast cancer, with the goal of using this knowledge to develop ways to prevent breast cancer in all women.
Provident Hospital of Cook County received $250,000 to fund new equipment and patient navigation for underserved women.
Advocate Trinity Hospital received $250,000 to complement the current Avon Foundation programs at Provident, Stroger and Mount Sinai hospitals. With the funds, Trinity will purchase new equipment and support patient navigation staff.
Southern Illinois Healthcare (Carbondale, IL) received $250,000 to serve women in Herrin, Murphysboro and Carbondale. The Hospital will use its gift to upgrade its mammography system and employ a patient navigator to work with the underserved women in these rural communities.
Indiana's Marion General Hospital received $250,000 to purchase new equipment to reduce delays in diagnostics and care following abnormal screening results.
ABOUT THE AVON FOUNDATION
The Avon Foundation, an accredited 501(c)(3) public charity, was founded in 1955 to improve the lives of women and their families. The Avon Breast Cancer Crusadelaunched in 1992, and Avon has supported breast cancer programs in some 50 countries. While advances have been made, breast cancer remains the most commonly diagnosed cancer among women worldwide, and in the U.S. there is a new diagnosis every three minutes. Through 2005, the Avon Breast Cancer Crusade raised and awarded more than $400,000,000 worldwide for access to care and finding a cure for breast cancer, with a focus on the medically underserved. Funding supports five areas: awareness and education; screening and diagnosis; access to treatment; support services; and scientific research. Beneficiaries range from leading cancer centers to community-based non-profit breast health programs, creating a powerful international network of research, medical, social service and community-based organizations focused on defeating breast cancer and ensuring access to care. For more information, visit www.avonfoundation.org.
The Avon Walk for Breast Cancer Chicago is the third of eight noncompetitive events for women and men of all fitness levels held throughout the US. Additional Walk cities and dates include: Washington, DC, April 29-30; Boston, MA, May 20-21; Chicago, IL, June 3-4; Denver, CO, June 24-25; San Francisco, CA, July 8-9; Los Angeles, CA, September 16-17; New York, NY, October 7-8; and Charlotte, NC, October 21-22.
The Avon Walk for Breast Cancer is generously supported by National Sponsor Prevention magazine; Official Sponsors www.ribbonofpink.com, a program of Novartis Oncology, Airplus for Her, and Reebok; Official Water FIJI; and Associate Sponsor Multiply.com.