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‘Good vibes’ at Making Strides Against Breast Cancer walk

Mike Jaquays
Staff writer
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Posted 10/25/22

The streets around Mohawk Valley Community College were a sea of bright pink Sunday morning as the American Cancer Society's annual Making Strides Against Breast Cancer walk returned.

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‘Good vibes’ at Making Strides Against Breast Cancer walk

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UTICA — The streets around Mohawk Valley Community College were a sea of bright pink Sunday morning as the American Cancer Society's annual Making Strides Against Breast Cancer walk returned.

The event brought out 1,500 walkers to raise $115,000 - so far - to help fight the disease, said ACS Senior Development Manager Robert Elinskas.

"This is our way to rally the community to raise awareness of breast cancer, celebrate our survivors and raise funds for breast cancer," Elinskas explained. "It is really amazing to see everyone come out like this - there is so much pink here today."

"This is a very, very exciting and special time for me," said male breast cancer survivor Bernie Szczesniak of Rome, who attended with wife Jackie. "I am so glad to see everyone out here on a beautiful morning for such a great cause."

Making Strides Against Breast Cancer was a two-mile non-competitive walk presented by Upstate Cancer Center that also featured music, food trucks, pink merchandise for sale, a giant inflated chair for photo opportunities, breast cancer survivor recognitions, Upstate Cancer Center’s mobile mammography van and a variety of fundraising activities.

Desiree Jennings of Rome was there to support aunts Roxanne Light and Kimberly Breen. She said it was her first year to take part in the event and they were actually able to build a team of 40-plus people - aged from babies on up - within 24 hours.

Teammate Theresa Zenovio of Utica hoped the event would raise more awareness of breast cancer and encourage people to get mammograms. She also hoped all survivors would continue to stay strong in their own journey with the disease.

"You always have to fight," she said. "And no matter what fight you are in, never give up."

It was the 30th anniversary of the Making Strides Against Breast Cancer walk this year, with Utica joining 150 communities nationwide in the celebration. Dollars raised help the ACS fund breast cancer research; provide education and guidance to help reduce the risk; and offer comprehensive patient support.

Elinskas agreed a big part of the Making Strides event is to remind people to make sure to have their routine cancer screenings - which he admitted have sometimes been forgotten in the midst of the pandemic. Fighting the disease is most often made easier with an earlier diagnosis, he explained.

Survivors also use the event to celebrate another year of their own journey fighting cancer, Elinskas added.

"There are a lot of good vibes here today,'" he said.

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