1,900 Women and Men Join Together to Participate in the 39.3-mile Walk; Nine Local Breast Cancer Organizations Receive Grants

Boston, MA, May 19, 2013 – The 11th annual Avon Walk for Breast Cancer season continued with the Avon Walk in Boston this weekend, raising more than $4 million to advance access to care and funding breast cancer prevention and treatment research. The Avon Walk Boston attracted 1,900 participants from 38 states and Washington, DC, as well as Canada and Bermuda. Additionally, 258 breast cancer survivors and 261 men joined together to raise life-saving funds and awareness for breast cancer.

During the Closing Ceremony at the University of Massachusetts Boston, Melissa Marquis of Londonderry, NH, a three-year breast cancer survivor, emotionally shared her battle with breast cancer with fellow Avon Walkers, Crew, family and friends: “I was in the best physical shape of my life when I was diagnosed with breast cancer. I followed all the rules: I ate right, exercised six times a week and didn’t smoke. So how did I get cancer? I will never know the answer,” said Marquis. “What I do know is I was one of the lucky ones. I was lucky to have a support system, lucky to have found my cancer early and lucky to have excellent medical care and insurance. I reflect back on my experience and see that so many people within our community aren’t as lucky as I was and that is why I walk in the Avon Walk. I walk to give hope and to benefit the community by raising funds for organizations in New England that offer help to those who need it the most.”

Kevin Honeycutt, Executive Director of the Avon Foundation for Women, announced during the closing ceremony a total of $1.94 million in grants to nine local organizations, ensuring the funds raised immediately benefit the community. “These grants represent only a portion of the funding that the Avon Foundation will distribute in the New England area and across the country this year, but we want to make sure that the impact of this Walk begins today,” Honeycutt said.

The following are the New England grants announced at the Closing Ceremony:

  • Massachusetts General Hospital Cancer Center, home of an Avon Foundation Breast Care Center of Excellence, received a $750,000 grant to fund research that looks at the association between pregnancy and breast cancer risk, as well as fund programs to help low-income women receive breast cancer care at the Avon Center at Massachusetts General and five neighborhood health care centers including Chelsea, Geiger Gibson, Mattapan, Neponset and Harbor community clinics.
  • BIOarray Therapeutics received a $150,000 research grant to develop a diagnostic test that would predict the type of chemotherapy a specific breast cancer will respond to and which therapies would be ineffective.
  • Silent Spring Institute received a $150,000 research grant to look at the potential role of the environment in breast cancer development.
  • Dana Farber Cancer Institute received a $150,000 research grant to identify if viruses or bacteria are present in different types of breast cancer through the generation and analyses of large scale sequencing data from breast cancer samples.
  • Mount Sinai Hospital in Toronto, Canada, in collaboration with Harvard Medical School, received $150,000 to investigate the mechanisms of action whereby viruses could give rise to breast cancer.
  • Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center received a $150,000 grant to continue researching the effects of the Epstein Barr Virus (EBV) infection on breast tissue.
  • Tufts University School of Medicine received a $225,000 grant to study the interaction between environmental chemicals and breast cells in a unique, 3D model of human cells.
  • Community Servings received a $90,000 grant to help continue its work to provide nutrition education and nutritious meals to homebound people suffering from life-threatening illnesses, such as breast cancer, through its Community Servings Avon Door-to-Door Delivery Program.
  • LifeSpan Foundation received a $125,000 grant to support its breast health navigation program, including a bilingual breast health patient navigation program for safety net care, community outreach, survivor programs and pilot complementary therapies at the Lifespan Comprehensive Cancer Center at Rhode Island Hospital and Miriam Hospital. This grant is part of the Avon Safety Net Hospital Program, which provides funding to 55 hospitals across the country to ensure women and men have access to quality breast cancer care, screening and treatment, regardless of their insurance status or ability to pay. Additional local Safety Net programs currently being supported by Avon Walk funds this year include Baystate Medical Center, Boston Medical Center, the Cambridge Health Alliance and Central Maine Medical Center.

An additional seven community organizations across New England will receive support in 2013 from the Avon Foundation through the Avon Breast Health Outreach Program. The following beneficiary organizations work hard to ensure that women in at-risk populations know about, and have access to, regular breast cancer screenings:

  • Healthy Community Coalition – Farmington, ME
  • Roxbury Comprehensive Community Health Center – Roxbury, MA
  • YWCA of Bangor – Bangor, ME
  • YWCA of Boston – Boston, MA
  • YWCA of Malden – Malden, MA
  • YWCA of Northern Rhode Island – Woonsocket, RI
  • YWCA of Southeastern Massachusetts – New Bedford, MA

About the Avon Walk for Breast Cancer Boston
The Avon Walk for Breast Cancer Boston, the third of eight 2013 Avon Walks, began on Saturday, May 18 with an inspirational opening ceremony at the University of Massachusetts Boston Circle Lawn. Walkers began their journey of up to 26.2 miles on Saturday through the greater Boston area, supported by an all-volunteer crew and cheered on by family, friends and supporters along the route. Participants spent the night at the Walk’s “Wellness Village“ at Prowse Farm in Canton, MA, featuring pink two-person tents, hot showers, hot meals, entertainment, volunteer medical services, as well as leisure activities such as yoga and a spa zone with mini back and foot massages.

On Sunday, May 19 after completing the Avon Walk’s final 13.1 miles – for a total of up to 39.3 miles over the course of the weekend – participants joined family and friends to celebrate their achievement at a closing ceremony back at the University of Massachusetts Boston Circle Lawn. At the ceremony, the Avon Foundation awarded new grants to New England breast cancer organizations to ensure the funds raised immediately benefit the community.

Registration is open for women and men to take part in the remaining 2013 Avon Walks in the following cities: Chicago (June 1-2), Santa Barbara (September 7-8),San Francisco (September 28-29), New York City (October 19-20), and Charlotte (October 26-27). For more information on the Avon Walk for Breast Cancer or to donate, visit www.avonwalk.org or call 888-541-WALK. To learn more about the Avon Foundation for Women visit www.avonfoundation.org.


The Avon Walk for Breast Cancer thanks National Sponsors: Reebok and OtterBox, Local Sponsors: U-Haul, Fallon Ambulance Service, Gainesville Renewable Energy Center, Muffin Town and Suffolk Downs and Medical Sponsor: Massachusetts General Hospital.

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.