Fighting breast cancer one step at a time


By Shahzmeen Hussain

By Shahzmeen Hussain

Contributing writer

About one in eight women born in the country today will develop breast cancer at some point, making it the second most common cancer for women. On Saturday, Making Strides Against Breast Cancer is organizing their eighth annual walk in Champaign-Urbana, “Making Strides of Champaign” to fight against that disease.

Making Strides Against Breast Cancer is the largest network of breast cancer awareness events in the nation, and Champaign-Urbana is one among its 300 communities that come together annually.

Angela Dimit, a breast cancer survivor and the director of advancement at the Office of Student Affairs, is leading the volunteer committee that consists of eight volunteers and helps plan and implement the walk.

“Fundraisers really aren’t successful when they’re staff-driven … your community has to embrace,” Dimit said.

The event starts at 9 a.m. at Meadowbrook Park, located on 2808 South Race St. in Urbana. Registration is free and can be found either on their website or on-site at 8 a.m. There will be survivors’ and caregivers’ tents, along with activities for kids, a flag ceremony, national anthem, warm-ups and an all-survivors picture. The walk is one loop, or three miles, around Meadowbrook Park and will go on until around 11 a.m.

“For me, it’s one of the most inspirational mornings to be among others . . . You have your own support group, but it’s just a visual reminder of people that are here,” Dimit said.

Colleges Against Cancer (CAC) is a nationwide collaboration of college students, faculty, and staff dedicated to eliminating cancer by working to implement the programs and mission of the American Cancer Society (ACS). The University’s chapter organized Pink Week last week with the help of the Alpha Phi Omega service fraternity to support Breast Cancer Awareness month. The money they raised from selling t-shirts was donated back to the ACS.

“We’re putting your dollars to work now,” said Amanda German, community manager of the special events division at ACS. “The Society is investing in groundbreaking breast cancer research to better understand, prevent, find and treat the disease, as well as providing free, comprehensive information and support to those touched by breast cancer in every community, when and where they need it.”

Nyquelle Drayton, senior in AHS interns at the ACS office. When she’s not in the office, she’s out on the field with an ACS employer advocating for the organization by reaching out to local businesses such as Wal-Mart, Starbucks and Einstein Bros. Bagels. She also organizes fundraisers such as Pink Week to get people to donate or support the organization in any way that they can.

Drayton plans on walking this Saturday in honor of her great grandmother who died of breast cancer.

“Honestly a lot of people, no matter race, gender, ethnicity, age, can relate to either losing a loved one to cancer or knowing someone that has been affected,” she said. “It touches lives and everyone comes together.”

The walk’s major sponsors are Mills Breast Cancer Institute at Carle Foundation Hospital’s Cancer Center, Health Alliance, NewsTalk1400 WDWS-AM, Lite Rock 97.5 WHMS and Classic Hits 107.9 WKIO.

Last year, the walk raised more than $64,000, a record in the eight-year history of the C-U event, with over 350 participants. This year, 57 teams are registered – 194 participants in total — and the goal is to reach 500 walkers and $75,000.

“I want to encourage students whose life has been impacted by breast cancer in some way to come out and walk with us,” Dimit said. “Even a donation of $10 or $20 would be helpful if they feel they might be able to contribute.”

Visit to get more information on how to register, donate or volunteer at the event.

“I truly believe that once we find a way to beat one type of cancer, it will open the door to ending cancer of all types,” Dimit said.

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