I traveled to New York City last week because my sister, Donna Stevens, a breast cancer survivor was walking in the 10th annual AvonWalk for Breast Cancer. This was her fifth walk and she and her team “The Pink Ribbon Gemz” have raised nearly $50,000. The first year she walked all the family and friends were supportive and eagerly wrote large checks. Heck, after all the treatments and surgeries she had endured, it was the least we could do. Frankly, in the preceding years we grew weary of doling out yet another check. We thought, “Seriously, how many times does she have to do this anyway?”I was there at the finish line as she and her mates and about 3,700 other men and women all blinged out in pink regalia walked passed (some hobbling) after completing 39.3 miles. As the day went on and I watched all these jubilant women, it occurred to me – this is NOT about raising money for cancer research (albeit a by-product), this is about the camaraderie of woman coping with disfiguration and death in the only way they can positively have any control over what has happened to them. It is beautiful.
Then to my utter amazement in the closing ceremonies, the foundation began giving out grants totaling 7.8 million to organizations such as The Avon Foundation Breast Cancer Center at New York Presbyterian-Columbia University Medical Center, one of eight Avon Foundation Breast Cancer Centers of Excellence located in leading medical centers across the country, who received $750,000 to continue funding care for thousands of underserved women in its state-of-the art mammography center. They are helping many women receive early detection and treatment that they would not otherwise receive. This, to me, is what is extraordinary.
So my hero is my sister, whose never ending fund raising channels her anger and fear into happiness and hope for not only herself, but for many, many women.