Santa Barbara will be host to the Southern California leg of the 10th Annual Avon Walk for Breast Cancer on Saturday, September 22. Following an early morning opening ceremony at Chase Palm Park at 6:30 a.m., participants will embark on a walk of at 39.3 miles over two days.
The Avon Breast Cancer Walk series consists of nine fundraising walks in cities throughout the country; other stops include San Francisco, Houston, Boston, and New York. The Southern California portion of the walk was previously hosted in Long Beach but moved to Santa Barbara in 2010. Walkers must commit to raising a minimum of $1,800 in order to participate; last year, Santa Barbara alone raised $4.6 million, and the Southern California walks have raised over $30 million in total.
From 2003 to 2011, the nationwide event has raised $423 million and funds screening, diagnoses, education, and scientific research. Notable recipients include the Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center at UCLA and the Dr. Susan Love Research Foundation, which have received more than $6 million and $5.2 million since 2005, respectively.
Avon Walk Program Director Eloise Caggiano is a breast cancer survivor herself and has been involved with the walk since 2008. “It’s really important to us to help women get care they need, regardless of their ability to pay for it. I was fortunate enough to have had insurance, great doctors, and access to health care; I never had to worry about any of that. Everyone deserves the same chance of survival that I had regardless of their financial situation,” said Caggiano.
Caggiano added that Avon is expecting even more participants this year — last year had 2,000 walkers — and she is excited to announce the total amount of money raised by Santa Barbara at the opening ceremony.
Cinde Car, a hair salon owner from San Pedro, has participated in the walk since its early days when it was a three-day event. Car said that her experiences shaving heads and fitting wigs for women dealing with breast cancer are what initially encouraged her to get involved, and she tries to make it to several stops of the Avon walk every year.
“I wanted to participate in a way that I could actively make a difference. I think Avon does the best work; I’m trying to go to at least a few every year, and I want to try out all the cities. My goal is to have raised a total of $100,000 by the time I’m done with these walks; I’ve got about $20,000 to go,” Car said. “We’ve seen so many more survivors in recent years, and I think it’s because of the walks and how much money we’ve all raised that goes toward research and treatment.”
The event will end with a closing ceremony on September 23 at Carpinteria State Beach, where the Avon Foundation will announce initial funding grants. Those who would like to participate or volunteer can find information at www.avonwalk.org/santa-barbara/