Walk aids research, survivors with hope

Christina Pfohl

While most of Northwestern’s campus slumbered, about 5,000 Chicago-area residents braved the chilly October morning Sunday and participated in the Walk for Hope to Cure Breast Cancer, which started on NU’s Lakefill at 7 a.m. Sunday.

The City of Hope National Medical Center, a research facility that focuses on finding treatments and cures for cancer, sponsored the event in an effort to raise money for important research projects, including making mammographies easier to read.

The event asked participants to finish a one-mile fitness walk, a four-mile leisure walk or a 5-K run.

Organizers did not know the total dollar amount of donations collected Sunday but said they hoped the event raised $500,000 for cancer research.

Celebrating its 10th anniversary, the Walk for Hope attracted more walkers, runners, and supporters of all ages than ever before, said Maureen Carlson, associate vice-president of Cause Marketing and National Events.

“This is the best year ever,” she said. “We’d like to thank the community and people that support us, because that’s how we’ll find a cure.”

The anniversary’s theme revolved around loved ones who had won or lost their battles with cancer. The event featured a special “Dedication Wall” filled with the names of cancer survivors and those who have died from the disease. Some dedications were specific — one in memory of “Jane,” and another to “my Mom” — while others were in support of survivors everywhere.

Guest speakers at the event shared stories of their personal struggles with breast cancer with the event participants.

Cancer survivor and opening ceremonies speaker Tracy Kampert moved many in the crowd to tears when she said a 2003 re-diagnosis of cancer still hadn’t changed her hope for the future.

“I believe I got cancer to change my life, not end my life,” she said.

In her speech, Kampert expressed her hope for breast cancer patients everywhere.

“Let’s walk for a future, the future I dream of — cancer free,” Kampert said.

Fellow survivor Paula Sabo, returning for her fourth year as a walker, reiterated the anniversary’s theme.

“You come to honor people, remember them, and celebrate being a survivor,” Sabo said.

Other participants, such as Downers Grove, Ill., resident Darlene Soper, 39, agreed that cancer should not be seen as the end.

A first-time Walk for Hope participant, Soper was part of a 12-member team walking in memory of Marsha Zimmerman, a co-worker’s relative.

“It’s sad, but it’s also awesome,” Soper said about participating in the event.

Several NU students volunteered at the walk.

Greeters Emerald Morrow, a Weinberg sophomore, and Adaku Onyeka, a Medill sophomore, said they were impressed by the enthusiasm displayed by event organizers and the community organizations who helped sponsor the Walk for Hope.

Whole Foods Markets, Brown Theatres, and Lean Cuisine were some of the many corporate sponsors that distributed free samples from tents set up at the fields.

Whole Foods Markets provided free fresh fruit, bagels, water and juice to all the runners and walkers.

Reach Christina Pfohl at [email protected].