September/October 2022 Issue
August 30, 2022

MAKING STRIDES: Union marks 20 years in fight against breast cancer

Author: Molly Belmont
Source: NYSUT United
Making Strides
Caption: Barbara Ryan, second from right, joins her Guilderland TA colleagues at the Strides walk in Albany. Photo provided.

Join Team NYSUT

Visit the Team NYSUT page for more info about walks across the state and to join a team in your area,

See below for full calendar of events.

As anyone from the northeast knows, autumn brings a wave of color to New York state: red, gold, bronze — and pink. Each fall, NYSUT enlists its members to support the American Cancer Society’s Making Strides Against Breast Cancer walks, which take place in communities from Jones Beach to Buffalo.

This year marks the 20th anniversary of the partnership between NYSUT and the American Cancer Society. During that time union members have raised $16.2 million to support groundbreaking breast cancer research, ensure greater access to quality care, influence public policy and provide critical patient support. “NYSUT is proud to be a flagship sponsor for Making Strides Against Breast Cancer,” said J. Philippe Abraham, NYSUT secretary-treasurer, whose office oversees the statewide union’s social justice initiatives.

“Since 2002, our members have walked to show solidarity with individuals who have been diagnosed with breast cancer and to ensure they receive the best possible treatment. With our members’ help, NYSUT has been able to raise millions of dollars to support the ACS mission to save more lives.”


In Albany, thousands gather to walk at Washington Park. The atmosphere is celebratory as walkers from across the region unite to fight a common enemy — breast cancer.

It’s a formidable foe; according to the ACS, 1 in 8 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in their lifetime. Barbara Ryan, a teaching assistant and member of the Guilderland Teachers Association is one of them.

“I am a seven-year breast cancer survivor and consider myself lucky to have had a relatively easy cancer experience from diagnosis to the allclear,” Ryan said. “Not everyone is as fortunate.”

This will be Ryan’s fourth Making Strides walk. She said she keeps coming back because she wants to help improve treatment options, and because she enjoys the festive atmosphere at the event.


In Rochester, walkers meet at Frontier Field bedecked in pink shirts, scarves and hats. At 10 a.m., participants begin their two-mile stroll through downtown Rochester. The event typically attracts about 14,000 walkers. The fundraising goal for this year is $300,000, and business teacher Carol Jean Miceli, a member of the Greece TA, will be doing her part to help. Miceli is what’s known as a pacesetter; she leads the pack when it comes to raising money. So far she and her team have raised more than $5,000 for the 2022 walk. Miceli participates in the walk each year to honor her mother, Angie, who died in 2007. The event is far from sad though. “When you walk up, you see a sea of pink,” Miceli said. “It is like walking into another world of happiness, hope and strength.”


The Westchester walk at Manhattanville College is the sixth highest grossing walk in the nation. Started 29 years ago, the five-mile walk typically attracts around 20,000 participants. Judi Laurence has been part of the walk since the mid-1990s, and even though she’s retired and moved to Florida, she still participates. Last year, she helped the Organization of NYSUT Staff Retirees raise more than $7,000, and she hopes to contribute at least that toward this year’s event goal of $700,000.

Laurence was instrumental in building a statewide partnership between NYSUT and the ACS. “Each step, you feel like you’re bringing us one step closer to the day that we won’t have to worry about losing people to this disease,” Laurence said.

Join Team NYSUT

Visit the Team NYSUT page for more info about walks across the state and to join a team in your area,

Oct. 1: Grangabel Park, Riverhead, Suffolk County

Oct. 9: Coney Island Boardwalk, Brooklyn

Oct. 14: Alex T. Duffy Fairgrounds, Watertown

Oct. 16: Washington Park, Albany; Central Park, Manhattan; Flushing Meadows, Queens; Woodbury Common Outlets, Hudson Valley; Jones Beach State Park, Nassau County; Frontier Field, Rochester; Midland Beach, Staten Island; Clinton Square, Syracuse; Manhattanville College, Purchase

Oct. 22: Wilkeson Pointe Park, Buffalo

Oct. 23: Recreation Park, Binghamton; Bay Plaza, Bronx; Mohawk Valley Community College, Utica; Glens Falls City Park, Glens Falls

Making Strides