Walkers participating in the Susan G. Komen Walk for the Cure on Saturday were treated to a party-like atmosphere.
Musical entertainment and an emcee at the bandstand, a Zumba class and a big screen television were part of the festivities before about 400 participants walked twice around the park in support of breast cancer awareness.
It was the second year the Walk for the Cure has taken place in Ashland. Four main co-sponsors — Tri-State Regional Cancer Center, Our Lady of Bellefonte Hospital, Big Sandy Superstores and Pepsi — made sure the event was a success. Seventy-five percent of the money raised stays in the community to help provide mammograms to those who can’t afford them.
Early detection of breast cancer is critical, said Dr. Jeff Lopez of Tri-State Regional Cancer Center.
“Events like this bring more awareness to breast cancer and the need for getting a mammogram,” he said. “You see it (awareness) on the golf tours and even in the NFL (during October). This is another way that helps.
“The nice thing is it allows funding for a lot of people to get mammograms. Breast cancer is very curable if caught early.”
Around a couple of dozen breast cancer survivors were among the participants. They marched in the Survivor Parade up to the bandstand near the close of the event. Some were wiping away tears as they paraded in front of family and friends.
Susan Parsons, a 10-year breast cancer survivor, attends as many walks as she can.
“I think making people aware is so important,” she said. “My breast cancer was detected early through a mammogram. It was tough, but we made it through it. You have such a bond with others who have had breast cancer. I started talking to people on these walks about what they’ve been through with breast cancer.”
Gary Parsons, Susan’s husband, said when a loved one is told they have cancer “it’s the worst thing a person can hear. We both went home and had a good cry and then we turned it over to the Lord. This is her 10th year of being cancer-free.”
Susan Parsons has participated in walks in Louisville and Tucson, Ariz.
“The one in Tucson was amazing,” she said. “I walk in them whenever I can. It’s important to me. I have a bond with a lot of these survivors.”
Susan Parsons said she appreciated the event being here and what Tri-State Regional Cancer Center has done for her. “Dr. Lopez is amazing; that whole place is great,” she said.
Parsons was among the hundreds of walkers who took two laps around the park before coming back to the bandstand for more entertainment and a prize raffle where dozens of gifts were given away to an appreciative audience.
Chuck Charles, vice-president of the OLBH Foundation, said it was “nice to see the community come together and make it happen. We put this together in about a month and a half.”
Big Sandy Superstore donated a pink washer and dryer that were raffled off. That by itself brought in an additional $5,000, organizers said.
Before the events, several local musicians sang, McDonald’s provided a free breakfast to cancer survivors and Holly West took participants through some stretching with some zumba exercises.
“Zumba was a good addition,” Lopez said.
Jennifer Bricking, the executive director of the Susan G. Komen foundation, was pleased with the turnout.
“It’s amazing seeing all these people come together, the young and old,” she said. “OLBH kind of knocked it out of the park. They put on a great event.”
Lopez and Charles mentioned that a Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure — a run instead of a walk — could be part of future events.
MARK MAYNARD can be reached at email@example.com or (606) 326-2648.