- The Washington Times - Saturday, January 24, 2004

Breast cancer survivors, advocates, families and friends packed the Vincent T. Lombardi Cancer Center at Georgetown University Hospital in Northwest yesterday to register for the Avon Walk for Breast Cancer, scheduled for May 1-2 in Washington and five other cities.

The registration, touted as the Great Start Party, attracted about 700 men and women who pulled out their checkbooks and credit cards to sign up for the annual walk. The afternoon included refreshments, raffles, videos and a photo swap. Bouquets of pink balloons were scattered throughout the center’s atrium.

For many, it was a reunion of sorts, bringing together participants from previous walks. For others, the three-hour party was an introduction to the Avon Foundation’s mission and the marathon.

“This is a kick-off event for the Avon 2004 Walk Series, and it’s taking place in five other cities around the country,” said Tanisha Smith, the Washington field manager for the Avon Walk. “The goal is to bring walkers past, current and future together to feel the energy and the importance of the event,” scheduled for May 1-2.

Ms. Smith, 32, said walkers commit to walking 26.2 miles, a marathon, or 39.3 miles over two days, and participants also commit to raising $1,800. The walk will start and end in the District. Organizers are still figuring out the overnight location.

“This turned out great,” Ms. Smith said of the party for the walk registration. “We never did this before, and we thought it would be a great networking event. This is a way to energize people who bring family and friends so that they know what this is all about.”

Judy Jones, a breast cancer survivor of 14 years, wouldn’t have missed the event. Mrs. Jones, 61, a Fairfax resident, volunteers at Fairfax Hospital and works with the Life With Cancer Program. She has participated in the Avon Walk for the past four years, she said.

“This will be my fifth year. I do this walk because I’ve seen so many younger women and older women who have been affected by breast cancer. People are still dying or their lives are devastated by what happens to them,” Mrs. Jones said.

“We have made so many advancements [in cancer treatment], but we have so far to go. Some aren’t as lucky as me,” Mrs. Jones said.

Patti Drohan, 25, signed up for the walk for the first time yesterday. A few members of her family have been diagnosed with breast cancer, she said.

“I came to support my family. Events like this bring people together and put them in the spirit. It energizes everyone,” Ms. Drohan said.

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