October 2010 Issue
September 27, 2010

Making Strides Against Breast Cancer: Why we walk

Author: Betsy Sandberg
Source: NYSUT United
First-time walker Pam Davis, left, with
NYSUT member Natalie Matricardi,
a nine-year cancer survivor.
Photo by Dennis Stierer.

When Pam Davis was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2009, she decided to tell only closest friends and family. "Especially at school, I didn't want to be treated any differently," said Davis, a reading intervention aide at Alexander Hamilton Elementary School in Tonawanda and member of the Kenmore-Tonawanda School Employees Association.

"It's so emotional to tell people you have cancer." A union colleague changed her mind last September. "I had decided to walk for the first time in the Making Strides Against Breast Cancer, and a teacher told me how we need every dollar we can raise to fight cancer. She thought if people knew about me, they would give," Davis said. Hamilton school raised almost $700; Davis plans to walk again in Buffalo.

This fall marks the ninth year NYSUT has sponsored the walks, with members raising at least $1 million a year for the past three years and volunteering countless hours. 

Jean Lucciano, a member of the Akron Faculty Association, twice survived cancer. "I've had thyroid cancer and breast cancer. Also, I've lost a lot of people who are very dear to me. It's a worthwhile cause. I'll walk Oct. 3 in Buffalo," she said.

At walks like Making Strides, "I'm reminded of the power of the union and how much we can achieve together," said Sophia Williamson of the Mount Vernon Federation of Teachers. She walks Oct. 17 in Purchase.