The clouds and rain that had depressed city residents for nearly a week lifted last Saturday and the sun shone on the hundreds of people that came out to walk to raise money to fight breast cancer.
"We raised between $140,000 and $150,000 this year," said Lisa Baker, the director of the city's Office on Women. "Last year we raised $127,000 and $150,000 was our goal for this year. If we didn't quite meet that, we came very close."
Of the money raised, about $85,000 came from corporate sponsors and the rest from individuals. A member of the McEnearney Associates staff raised $11,000, topping amounts raised by individuals. She raised $6,000 on her own and got an additional $5,000 from the company.
Sloan Siegel walked with the McEnearney group. Her aunt sells real estate for the company. "I am walking to raise money for breast cancer and because cancer sucks," Sloan said. The 12-year-old got a $100 check from her grandparents for her birthday and signed that check over to the walk.
Sloan's mother, Lillian, and her younger sister, Sophie, also walked on Saturday. "We are walking because this is important," Lillian said.
The walkers were people like the Siegels who wanted to do something to help raise money; breast cancer survivors and people walking in memory of those who have died from breast cancer. Betty Medor died on Oct. 15, 2003. Her family walked, wearing t-shirts with Betty's picture on them.
"My mother was a great lady who was always the strongest member of our family," said Betty's son Reginald. "We wanted to come out here and walk in her memory and to help raise money to fight this disease."
Betty Medor had been involved with the walk for a number of years. "She told her family just how important the walk was to her and, after her death, the family wanted to do something to help," Baker said. The Medor family raised nearly $2,000 for the walk by holding a car wash.
In the U.S. the lifetime risk of a woman developing breast cancer is one in eight. Increased use of mammography has resulted in breast cancer's being found earlier in their development, when they are smaller and at less advanced stages. In the 1940s, only 72 percent of women diagnosed with breast cancer survived for five years. Today, the five-year survival rate for women with localized breast cancer is 97 percent.
The money raised at the walk will support the Alexandria Breast Cancer Walk Fund at Inova Alexandria Hospital. The Walk Fund supports free mammography and other diagnostic screening procedures for Alexandria women who are not adequately insured and could not otherwise obtain this necessary medical screening. To date, the fund has helped more than 2000 women.