Thousands of Queens residents will walk through Flushing Meadows Corona Park on Sunday to support those affected by breast cancer.
For the 24th year in a row, the American Cancer Society (ACS) will host Making Strides, an event that aims to raise money for breast cancer research. Beginning at 10 a.m., participants will take part in a 5k with breast cancer survivors, family and friends.
Robert Fox, the Queens Manager for ACS, said the event also has another purpose.
“It’s an opportunity for the survivors in the community to come together to learn they are not alone,” Fox said. “They are not walking on this journey by themselves.”
About 11,000 to 12,000 Queens residents participate every year and the event got so big that organizers had to move it from its original route along Queens Boulevard to accommodate more people, he said. So far, Queens has raised $250,000 and that number is expected to rise to about $700,000. New York City is expected to raise about $6 million.
The program will start about 9 a.m. with a host of speakers and a Zumba warm up at 9:45 a.m. Then, breast cancer survivors will cut a ribbon to mark the beginning of the walk. A DJ will provide a soundtrack and local groups like the St. John’s marching band and cheerleaders, R&B trio Diva Nation and artist Sha Collins will also perform.
Participants will start the walk at the Pool of Industry, snake through the Unisphere, Queens Theatre, Queens Zoo, Arthur Ashe Stadium and then back to the Pool of Industry.
Vicky Rego, a 44-year-old Astoria resident, is participating in the walk and has raised about $1,800 for ACS so far. Rego decided to create a team and partake in the event because she was diagnosed with breast cancer in June.
“It’s been very surreal,” she said. “I found a lump, I went to the doctor, I was diagnosed and we started treatment all within about a month.”
Though Rego said she has been fortunate because she hasn’t reacted badly to the chemotherapy, there are other side effects.
“The fatigue is sometimes completely unbearable you don’t want to get out of bed and you force yourself to,” she said. “There are the aspects of the hair loss and nail discoloration and your body just feeling weak. For someone like me who is very active generally, I was at the gym four to five times a week, it gets harder and harder for me to do that.”
Rego’s gym, CKO Kickboxing in Astoria, decided to raise money and participate in Making Strides in her honor. She said the friends she has made at the gym and her 16-year-old daughter have helped her through this tough time and credits ACS with giving her a free wig.
“I’m so not used to asking for help or getting help,” she said. “You don’t realize how much help you need. This is not something anybody should have to do on their own. It’s definitely not something anyone can do on their own.”
Rego added that she is excited to meet other people who have or are currently being treated for breast cancer at the event and said that exercise is extremely important for those battling cancer.
“Besides the fact that ACS helps so many people, physical activity for somebody who is going through treatment or has survived treatment is just so important,” she said. “It helps you keep a positive outlook, helps your body fight all the effects of chemotherapy and dramatically reduces the risk of having cancer.”
For those who want to support ACS but have not signed up for the event, you can make a donation on Oct. 15 at the check-in tent or donate by visiting makingstrideswalk.org/queens.