Caymanite women walk for a cure

A 12-woman-strong team based in
Cayman is heading for Tampa at the end of this month to take part in a
gruelling three day sponsored walk organised by the high profile US-based
breast cancer charity, Susan G.  Komen for the Cure.

Lisa Burke says it had been her
ambition to walk the Susan G. Komen 3-Day for the Cure walk for about three
years.

“The time was right this year – I
had lost a considerable amount of weight last year and wanted to carry on
staying fit and trim and I turn 40 this year, so I thought it would be a
tremendous way for me to commemorate my birthday while at the same time giving
back to such an important charitable cause.”

What began as a personal journey
for Lisa quickly turned into a group cause as, one by one, friends and
acquaintances asked if they could join her in her journey. Lisa herself says
she has now decided to undertake the walk in honour of her 7-year old daughter
Sabrina. “I hope to goodness they find a cure for breast cancer soon so my
daughter’s generation may never know the pain and suffering caused by cancer,”
she states.

Fellow teammates include Lisa
Uggeri (who turns 50 on the very last day of the walk) and young Mia Burke, who
at 15 is the youngest participant, who will be walking with her mum Amy Burke.
Other team members include Christina Kirkaldy, Diana Joseph, Jennifer Woodford,
Christina Asch, Deirdre Billes, Nisha Bismillah, Colleen Brummer and Wanda
Thompson.

Now the team stands at 12 – 10
participants in Cayman and two based in Florida, all joining forces to raise
funds and awareness for breast cancer by walking 60 miles over three days. The
first day consists of 26 miles, the second 20 miles and the third 14 miles. At
night, participants sleep in tents at a predetermined site. Lisa is co-captain
of the team, along with fellow teammate, Christina, who work together
organising the team’s participation, including its sponsorship, T-shirts and
hats. 

The walk itself is open to anyone
who wants to participate and is not relegated just to women. Thousands of women
and men come together to participate and there are many different walks, held
in different cities over different weekends all across the States. All walkers
must agree to raise a minimum of US$2,300 for the 3-Day for the Cure in order
to walk. 

Diana is one walker who joined the
Caymanite team early on. She says the Cayman public has been incredibly
generous even during these tough economic times: “The team’s initial fund
raising goal was US$35,000. There has been such an incredible outpouring of
support and generosity that we have now increased that target to US$50,000. Our
efforts currently stand at US$38,000 with eight weeks to go [at the time of
writing].” 

Diana says that three of the team
members are ranked in the top 10 fundraisers for the Tampa walk, and the
Caymanite team is ranked as the number four fundraising team, which is pretty
impressive for a first ever team effort from the Cayman Islands. 

Sponsors of the team include FSH
Design, who created the team’s logo for free and Subway, who sponsored the
production of T-shirts and hats for the walk.

Diana says she can appreciate why
so many people in Cayman have been so generous, because so many people have
been touched by the disease, either directly or through friends and family.

“The many poignant stories from
people who have donated who have told of how their lives have been affected by
breast cancer have been most touching. 
Mothers, wives, sisters and daughters…. It has been humbling and
shocking just how many people we know who have been affected in some way by
this disease,” she confirms.  “Raising
money for research to find a cure will benefit women all around the world.

 

Tough going

The ladies admit that training has
been tough at times.  Saturday and Sunday
call for long walks (double digit mileage on both days, Diana confirms) and the
days start at 4.15 am. 

“It is important that we do these
“back to back walks” in preparation of walking such long distances over the
three days at the end of this month,” Diana explains. “We vary our routes each
week so we are getting to see a lot of the Island. We also train during the
week, but those walks are usually around five miles or so. The hardest walks
are undoubtedly the Sunday walks; after a 14 miler on Saturday, you ache
through most of the 10 or 11 miles that Sunday calls for. And of course it is
hot, too! The training began at an average of 30 miles a week but increased to
around 40 miles a week as the walk date gets nearer.” 

The ladies don’t seem to be too
much in awe of the walk itself, as they feel that their continuous and rigorous
training is helping them to get physically in shape, while mentally preparing
them for the task ahead by forging close bonds with each other.

“We spend many hours in each
other’s company while training (particularly the ladies in Florida who only get
to train with each other) so we have all created strong relationships that I’m
sure will last much longer than just the walk,” Lisa says. “All of the ladies
on the team have been so helpful to me and each other through this journey
which has made it so priceless for me. Everyone has been so encouraging to each
other. The tough bit will be the camping overnight!”

“I think some people are sponsoring
me just for the camping alone!” Diana jokes, who is also not necessarily
looking forward to a night under canvas. Both women agree however that it is a
small price to pay for such an important cause.

 

All for the cause   

Diana says it is her first time
being involved in such a large charity project, as with many of her team
members. 

“The Komen organisation is
amazing,” she says. “The Susan G. Komen for the Cure partners or funds
programmes in 50 countries to end suffering from breast cancer and has helped
train more than 400 breast cancer researchers and funded more than 1,800
research projects. Over the past 27 years it has invested hundreds of millions
of dollars in global breast cancer research and local community programmes
supporting education, screening and treatment. 
It’s also an extremely forward thinking and broad reaching charity,
aiming to invest more than US$2 billion over the next decade in breast health
care and treatment for the underserved and in research to discover the causes
of breast cancer and, ultimately, its cure.”

The ladies are active in other ways
to raise funds and awareness, having held a garage sale and a Ladies Luncheon
at the Lighthouse Club earlier this month.

October is officially designated
Breast Cancer Awareness month and the major fundraising event for the cause
takes place on 16 October, the Breast Cancer Gala, which will be held at the
Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman.

 

A personal journey

Each team member recants why they
joined the Susan G. Komen 3-Day for the Cure walk this year.

As mentioned, Lisa B. is walking
this walk to celebrate her 40th birthday and her accomplishments of losing
weight over the past year. She has dedicated this walk to her seven year old
daughter, Sabrina, with the hope that her generation will never have to encounter
the pain and suffering from breast cancer when she grows up.

Amy is walking as a testimony to
the strength of all the women who have suffered through this terrible disease.
Their strength of character is an inspiration to us all. She is walking as a
tribute to her mum, a 20 year survivor, and on behalf of all those who will be
diagnosed in the future. And for the hope that by the time her daughter gets to
the age that she has to start worrying about it, there will be nothing left to
worry about. This disease must end and if she can help raise funds to find a
cure, then she is happy to try and do her part.

Deidre is “paying it forward”.
Perhaps, one day, she will need direct assistance to face and hopefully cure
her body from breast cancer. Her greater hope is that money raised by the team
and this organisation will be instrumental in finding new cures in the near
term and making them accessible to those in need today.

Christina is walking to make a
difference in the world. She wants her children to understand that charity is
not only about giving, but about “doing”. Cancer has touched so many lives, and
if this small donation will make a difference, Tina wants that to be one of her
goals 2010.

Mia, the youngest team member at 15
is doing this walk to make sure that in the future, this horrible cancer can be
got rid of entirely, for the good of generations to come.  Wanda is walking because when she turned 40
she felt she needed to do something worthwhile with her life. God had blessed
her with an amazing husband and three beautiful and healthy children. It took
her two years to figure it out. She came across the Susan G Komen 3 Day Walk
for the Cure and read up and learned some very alarming statistics. She
realised how very lucky and blessed she has been and decided it was time to
give back.

Nisha is walking in the memory of
her father who passed away from stomach cancer and in celebration of three
friends who are breast cancer survivors.

She walks because she should. She
walks because she can.

Lisa U. is walking to celebrate
life and raise awareness that it’s possible to bring an end to breast cancer.
She wants to make an impact, not only on the pavement, but also by participating
with a group of amazing women that are determined to make a difference. Lisa’s
motto for the walk: celebrate life, love, friendship and the generous goodness
in all of us to find a cure.

Diana is motivated by the desire
that all best friends, sisters, wives, mothers and daughters might live a full
life free of this disease. She wants to get old with every one of her friends!
She also wants to raise her own awareness and knowledge of breast cancer and
believe, as a team, we can pass that knowledge on to others in our community
and inspire many more people to play a part in defeating this disease forever.

Colleen is celebrating her five
year anniversary cancer free! After being diagnosed with breast cancer at the
age of 36, she is walking to let others know that breast cancer does not have
to be a death sentence but a challenge that can make you stronger and more
determined than you ever thought you could be. She is so excited to be walking
with other women who have fought the battle and won and to be inspired by so
many people coming together to help raise money to find a cure for something no
woman (or man) should have to go through. But most importantly, she is walking
in memory of her mother who died of breast cancer 20 years ago – hoping that we
can prevent future generations of daughters from losing something so precious.

Jennifer is walking to celebrate
her health, to celebrate turning 40 this year and to show her children that
through hard work and commitment great things can be achieved.