August 10, 2011

NYSUT members kick off Making Strides campaign

Author: Betsy Sandberg
Source: NYSUT Communications
Caption: NYSUT Vice President Maria Neira (left) and Jennifer Gough, a teacher in Bethlehem schools and the keynote survivor for the Capital Region's kickoff of the Making Strides campaign. Photo by El-Wise Noisette.

"More pink for your green" is the theme of the Making Strides Against Breast Cancer walks this fall.

After all, pink is the predominant color of autumn at the fundraising walks across the state, and at the American Cancer Society's kickoff breakfast in Albany Wednesday, more than 500 Capital Region residents vowed to generate more green through the society's major fundraiser.

Jennifer Gough, who teaches English as a Second Language in the Bethlehem schools, was the keynote survivor to talk about how services through ACS helped her, and her family, through the difficulty of cancer diagnosis and treatment made even more difficult by a long-distance move from southern Texas back to New York state that meant leaving students she loved.

When Gough finished her story of the challenges and her eventual triumph over cancer, it was NYSUT's Maria Neira who led the standing ovation for the member of the Bethlehem Central Teachers Association.

"We all know so many who have suffered, or are suffering from cancer," Neira said after the event. "Jennifer is such an inspiration to us all, to educate each other, women and men about how to reduce risks and detect all cancers and how to help each other when we need it."

Four years ago NYSUT, a flagship sponsor, was the first organization to raise $1 million in a single year and is still the only team in this state to top that milestone mark each year according to the American Cancer Society. Those funds help go directly to a wide array of programs and services, including research, 24-hour cancer information at (800) 227-2345, free lodging, survivor support, peer counseling and even rides to treatment.

In the Capitol District, ACS provides five grants that total $3.4 million. Three of those grants, totalling $1,672,000, go to researchers at the State University of New York Albany's campus.

The non-competitive 5K Making Strides Against Breast Cancer walks will take place at numerous sites across the state Oct. 4, 18, 24 and 25. You can register as a walker and raise money online by logging on to www.nysut.org/makingstrides. Information on forming teams of walkers is also available from NYSUT regional offices.