October 13, 2017

A plethora of pink on the horizon as Making Strides walks kick off

Author: Liza Frenette
Source:  NYSUT Communications
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Caption: NYSUT Board members proudly presented their pink at a recent meeting. Photo by El-Wise Noisette.

A lot of people will be checking their weather apps, wrapping themselves in pink, and setting their alarm clocks for early Sunday morning Making Strides walks happening all over the state.

Thirteen walks are being held this Sunday, Oct. 15, beginning as early as 7:30 a.m. at Rochester’s Frontier Field and at Central Valley’s Woodbury Common Outlets. The latest walk of the day is in Albany, kicking off at noon. NYSUT officers Andy Pallotta, president; Jolene DiBrango, executive vice president; and Philippe Abraham, first vice president, will be walking in the Capitol city.

The money raised in these communities at the American Cancer Society walks helps scientists continue work in their labs on a cure for cancer; provides transportation to treatment for people who are unable to get there on their own; and makes sure someone is on the phone when people call for information and help. (1-800-227-2345)

"We are very proud of the tens of thousands of walkers across New York, our NYSUT members and their families, who are walking for hope and healing and a brighter future. Together, we make a difference," said DiBrango.

“Strides walks are an important part of the NYSUT social justice agenda,” Abraham said. “Walkers raise money to educate and enable people in at-risk communities to get breast cancer screenings and to promote healthy lifestyles to reduce the risk of cancer.”

On Oct. 22 walks are taking place at Jamestown Community College and Suffolk County Community College Eastern Campus; the final walk is Oct. 29 at Glens Falls Civic Center. Many walkers create teams and power the pavement in groups.


NYSUT has been a flagship sponsor of the events since 2002, and union educators walking and raising money have collected more than $13 million for the cause. ACS uses funds to pay for lodging, wigs, rides to treatment, support, and scientific research at institutions such as the State University of New York. Jennifer Surtees, an associate professor and a member of United University Professions, NYSUT's affiliate for SUNY faculty and staff, has been utilizing ACS grant money to help find ways to improve cancer treatment by studying genetic pathways in yeast.

ACS reports it has spent more than $4.5 billion since 1946 for cancer research, making it the largest private, nonprofit funder of cancer research in the U.S. Funding is primarily from donations. The ACS has 60 full-time cancer researchers, and supports an additional 800 researchers across the country.

Men can also get breast cancer. More resources and information on risk factors, how it is discovered and how it is treated are now available too at www.cancer.org. Retired teacher Michael Koravik shared his story with NYSUT in January 2016; he became a true advocate for male breast cancer awareness.

Amy Delia, director of division communication for ACS, told NYSUT United earlier this year, "We currently fund researchers looking into ways to prevent breast cancer cells from multiplying by lulling them into a permanent sleep, known as senescene. We also are funding investigators looking at immunotherapy's promise and using nanoscale technology to monitor cancer.”

Some of the union walkers who will be strutting their stuff at Making Strides also take part in Real Men Wear Pink, raising money for the cause by donning pink attire throughout October. One of those “real men,” West Seneca Teachers Association president NYSUT Board of Directors member Joe Cantafio, a social studies teacher, is walking with his wife. He is taking strides for many reasons, including his wife’s recovery from an aneurism and the death of his friend, Sonia Basko, a woman who touched lives as a teacher, NYSUT staff person, volunteer, and NYSUT coordinator of Making Strides efforts.

According to the American Cancer Society, in 2016, Real Men raised more than $5.5 million, and Making Strides raised more than $60 million. Those funds support cancer research and much more, including:

  • Road To Recovery - 7.6 Million free rides to treatment have been given to patients since 2005.
  • Hope Lodge Communities - 267,000 free nights of lodging were provided to patients in 2015.
  • Look Good, Feel Better - Nearly 1 million patients have learned to manage appearance-related side effects of treatment since the program began.
  • Reach To Recovery - 1.5 million patients have received one-on- one support from fellow breast cancer survivors since the program began in 1969.
  • Patient Navigators - 50,000 patients got help understanding their diagnosis and tackling day-to-day issues in 2015.
  • Breast Cancer Research - The American Cancer Society is currently funding 160 grants related to breast cancer – totaling more than $62 million.


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