By MC2 Tiarra Fulgham, Navy Public Affairs Support Element West Detachment Hawaii
Military service members united with Hawaii residents, including breast cancer survivors, volunteers and families, in a 3.1 mile Making Strides Against Breast Cancer walk held Oct. 4 across the Ford Island Bridge.
More than 5,000 participants of all ages expressed their support for women with breast cancer by wearing special clothing, accessories, pictures of loved ones and the international symbol of breast cancer awareness, the pink ribbon of hope.
“I am a two-time breast cancer survivor, and it’s just amazing to be here and meet other survivors that have gone through it,” said Navy Chief Warrant Officer Vanderla Akaka. “It’s just overwhelming to see all the support and the love to make breast cancer go away, find a cure for it, and get more birthdays for everybody.
“It’s just a great event to help everybody out. I am just so thankful. This is six years, so it’s overwhelming for me,” Akaka said.
Akaka was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2012 after a self-examination. She is one of the many “Portraits of Hope” for the American Cancer Society.
For the Honolulu Making Strides Chapter, this is the sixth annual non-competitive walk and one of more than 300 events being held across the country this year by the American Cancer Society. This year, the chapter raised more than $150,000.
The events raise awareness and funds to help end breast cancer by supporting the society’s efforts to find cures and support programs and services for all people facing the disease.
“I have been out here almost every year running and sometimes even pushing a stroller,” said Glen Smith, a volunteer runner.
“I enjoy it, I enjoy hearing the supporters, the volunteers that tell us to keep going. Staying in shape and staying healthy is a good thing, but here it’s not just that. It’s the fact that we are out here today helping others get through the fight against cancer,” Smith said.
Funds raised through the Making Strides Against Breast Cancer Walk enable the American Cancer Society to provide free resources and support to the one in two women newly diagnosed with breast cancer. The society invests in research to find, prevent, treat and cure breast cancer and ensures access to mammograms for women who need them.
Since the start in 1993, more than 9 million walkers across the United States have raised more than $528 million to help fight breast cancer through “making strides” events. In 2013 alone, more than 1 million walkers across the country raised $68 million to help finish the fight against this disease.
Service members who are interested in helping and supporting the fight against breast cancer can donate through the annual Hawaii Pacific Area Combined Federal Campaign, currently running through Oct. 31.