“You never expect to hear the words, ‘It’s cancer,’ ” said Diana
Kearn, one of nearly 2,500 breast cancer survivors, friends and
family members assembled at Michigan Stadium on Saturday to raise
money for their cause.
More than 40,000 lives are claimed by breast cancer each year,
according to the American Cancer Society. The Making Strides
Against Breast Cancer walk that started and ended at the Big House
raised nearly $155,000, said LSA senior Christina Morrow,
recruitment manager for the society.
The money raised was earmarked for a variety of ACS programs,
including Reach to Recovery, which pairs breast cancer patients
with women who have been through similar circumstances; Look Good,
Feel Better, a program that aims to improve the self-image of
breast cancer patients; and Road to Recovery, which drives patients
to their treatments, Morrow said
Many University students, staff and faculty participated in the
walk. Teams from University Students Against Cancer and the Medical
School participated, Morrow said.
Fewer students turned out because the walk coincides with fall
break, but there was high faculty participation, Morrow added.
This was the walk’s most successful year and far exceeded
expectations for both attendance and fundraising, said ACS
spokesman Kevin Mlutkowski. He attributed the success to the
group’s website, which helped raise $45,000 this year.
“Strides with Di” was a team of friends and family who walked to
show their support for Kearn, who was diagnosed with breast cancer
in April at the age of 40. Many on the team were University
employees, co-workers of Kearn’s life partner, Morrow said.
Morrow also spoke at the event, saying the goal of the walk was
“to bring together community, survivors, family and friends.”
“If caught early, breast cancer is over 95 percent curable,” she
The money raised by the walk will go toward breast cancer
research, advocacy and education, Morrow said.
Among the American Cancer Society’s current advocacy efforts is
lobbying the Michigan Legislature to lower the age for free
mammograms from 50 to 40, Morrow said.
Many participants walked in the memory of loved ones lost to
“I walk so that others don’t have to deal with it,” said Patty
Krcatovich. Her younger sister, Judy Brodzik, ended her four-year
battle with breast cancer in 2002.
Brodzik was an engineer, a pianist, a runner and a mom, said
Krcatovich. Brodzik’s children walked alongside their extended
family Saturday in honor of their mother.
“I don’t want other kids to have to walk in memory of their
moms,” Krcatovich said. Brodzik’s family called itself Judy’s
Dolphins, symbolizing a school of dolphins banding together to fend
A team from the Cancer Care Center at St. Joseph Mercy Hospital
also participated in Saturday’s walk. The center provides holistic
healing, with both in-patient and out-patient care, said Debbie
Madison, a social worker from the center.
“There is a high emphasis on caring for hearts and spirits,”
More than 150 nurses, social workers and patients from the
cancer center participated in the walk, she said. “(The center)
can’t work in isolation – we need community.”
Early detection is key, said Devana Clay, a breast cancer
patient at the cancer center. Clay walked to raise awareness of the
disease, which afflicts more than 212,000 Americans each year,
Some of the money from the event will fund breast cancer
research at the University, Mlutkowski said.
“The University has been extremely supportive of the event since
we started three years ago.”