Hundreds walked through Central Park on Sunday morning in search of a cure for breast cancer, and to support all those fighting the illness.
The annual Making Strides Against Breast Cancer, in support of the American Cancer Society, returned for the first in-person extravaganza after a COVID-19 hiatus on Sunday morning. Although the COVID-19 pandemic had prevented the charity event from convening, the legion of pink warriors looked as though they hadn’t missed a beat as they gathered at 66th Street and Central Park West, raring to go.
Those participating in the event said it is all about hope. The warriors who have battled breast cancer — or have helped a friend or loved one on their life-changing journey — cling to the hope that they will win their fight.
Denise Nales knows this all too well. Cancer has been a predominant force in her life, not just suffering through breast cancer herself, she also watched other members of her family combat the disease as well — even her dog. Four years ago, Nales found a lump on her breast during a self-exam. While she survived the disease, the journey was difficult as family members were not so fortunate.
“It’s been a rough journey. Other medical issues came to light, but you never give up. You wake up grateful to wake up every day,” Nales said, adding, “Take care of yourself! Do a self-exam, both men and women. Yes, men get breast cancer, too.”
For Nales, taking part in Making Strides is an important part to keeping the memories of family members alive who’ve passed away from the disease through fundraising for cancer research and aid.
“To give back to my community and raise money and help others and show people there is hope,” Nales said, adding that this is her third Making Strides Walk among other American Cancer Society activities.
The American Cancer Society has been at the forefront of the fight against breast cancer for decades, leading the movement to help survivors and their families when they need it most. The funds accumulated are disseminated to various aspects in research, aid, and services from those suffering through breast cancer and survivors. Additional donations also go toward helping to ensure that everyone has an equitable opportunity to prevent, treat, identify, and survive breast cancer.
More than $76 million from donations are invested in breast cancer grant research, as well as funding for 24/7 helplines to support breast cancer survivors through their difficult journey, according to the American Cancer Society.
At the Making Stride Central Park Walk, health and safety precautions were taken to ensure the event included plenty of social distancing and hand sanitizer. Masks were also strongly recommended (especially for unvaccinated individuals.)
Several small tents marked the areas for attendees, including a survivor’s tent, American Cancer Society booth, a wall of hope with messages individuals could pose in front of, and an area to make donations and purchase items for breast cancer research funding near the Central Park Bandshell.
Daniel Dividue walks in memory of his wife, Jenny, who passed away from breast cancer. They first met in the mid-1980s, but life circumstances caused Jenny to move to California and it wasn’t until 2006 when they were reunited again by chance, and they fell in love once more. Two years after they married, she was diagnosed with breast cancer and the disease rapidly spread to her liver and then throughout her whole body.
“Her family told me that when we found each other, they hadn’t seen her that happy in years. They said that at least I brought her joy in the last few years of her life,” Dividue said somberly.
“It was meant to be,” he said, holding up a photo of his wife, “I donate yearly, but I’ve never done the walk. I registered last week, hurt my leg on Thursday but I made a promise to myself and to her. Even though my leg hurt, I was going to walk.”
Looking around at the other walkers dressed in pink, Dividue was taken aback by their enthusiasm and beauty of the event. He says that it is something that he will take part in every year going forward.