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Local Firefighter to Walk for Cancer

39-mile Avon Walk in Los Angeles sponsored by the Avon Foundation.

Purcellville resident and Centreville firefighter Kathryn Himstedt, 29, has been training and fund-raising since March to participate in the Avon Walk for Breast Cancer Sept. 15-16 in Los Angeles.

Marissa, Himstedt’s sister who lives in Los Angeles, initially enticed her into participating in the walk, and Kathryn’s been working vigorously ever since.

“It’s just great when you can use your energy to help other people,” she said.

HIMSTEDT STARTED walking on the Washington and Old Dominion Trail, which goes for 45 miles, between Purcellville and Washington, D.C. Daily, she walks as many as eight miles. She walks about four miles down the trail and four miles back. For the Avon Walk, she’ll have to be ready to walk a lot further. Over the two days, the Avon Foundation will require her to walk 39 miles.

Himstedt, whose grandmother had breast cancer, believes that everyone’s lives are affected by breast cancer in some way. “We’re all walking for a reason,” she said.

Participants will meet breast cancer survivors and, after the walk, hear stories from them.

“They’re the real heroes,” Himstedt said, referring to women fighting breast cancer.

THE AVON FOUNDATION began the Avon Walks in 2003 and has held them in Boston, Chicago, Denver, San Francisco and Washington, D.C., so far this year. In addition to the walk in Los Angeles, those in New York and Charlotte, Va., have not happened yet. According to Susan Arnot Heaney, director of public relations and communications for the Avon Foundation, more than 2,400 people have registered. From 2003 to 2006, the Avon Walks have raised $150 million for fighting and curing breast cancer.

Himstedt moved from Michigan to here about five years ago. About two years ago, after swearing off office work, she joined Centreville’s Fire Station 38.

“It’s the best job ever,” she said.

Himstedt’s coworkers have helped her raise the money she needs to be able to participate, which is $1,800. So far, she has raised $1,053 with a deadline of Sept. 14, the day before the walk.

“Most people are very generous and willing to give for a great cause,” she said.

Coworkers have contributed and are helping her to organize and host a carwash Sunday, Aug. 26 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the fire station.

“The guys I work with have been really supportive,” she said, adding that her friends have also been supportive. “Everyone knows that it’s for a great cause.”