By Nicole Cortese
You can smell the crisp air prickling your nose, watch the leaves gradually turn from green to yellow to red and orange and taste the warmth of a pumpkin spice latte. As the month progresses you begin to notice the splashes of pink gracing everything from NFL uniforms on Sunday nights to rubber bracelets supporting the Susan G. Komen Foundation. Welcome to October, National Breast Cancer Awareness Month.
This autumn, junior communications major and Student Government Association President Lorelei Colbert extended her hand to help in the fight against breast cancer by participating in the Susan G. Komen 3-Day Walk for the Cure in Philadelphia which took place from Friday, Oct. 5 until Sunday, Oct. 7.
“It was probably the most inspirational thing I’ve ever done in my life,” Colbert said.
For the event, Colbert was decked out in her Susan G. Komen 3-Day Walk for the Cure T-shirt, accessorized with a hot pink cast from a recent sports-related pinky injury and bright pink nail polish.
Walk for the Cure is a 60-mile walk that takes place over three days in October. It is held annually around the United States where survivors, supporters and teams of men and women gather to show their support and help raise money in an effort to find a cure for breast cancer, according to the walk’s official site, komen.org.
The event joins cancer survivors and advocates alike. This support does not go unrecognized.
“When I was walking past a cheering section, I received a little slip of paper from a woman that said ‘I’m a survivor. I don’t even know how much I can thank you for touching my life,’” Colbert said.
She had just three short weeks to actively fundraise before the event. Despite time restraints, she managed to exceed her goal, thanks to various members of the Rider community, who expressed their support through donations.
“Everyone supported me right down to the end,” Colbert said. “I had to raise $2,300 in order to walk and I wound up raising $1,100. Within the last two days before the walk, I surpassed the $2,300 goal and raised almost $2,500. It just shows how much of a community we have here at Rider.”
Walking for the first time with her best friend Abigail Grasso and Grasso’s mom, Joyce, they created “Team Abigail” in memory of Grasso’s grandmother who passed away in 1999 from breast cancer. They completed the 60 miles with smiles on their faces and overwhelming feelings of satisfaction, support and inspiration.
“They say blisters aren’t as bad as chemo, and that’s why you walk,” Colbert said. “I witnessed people being taken away on an ambulance for minor things like stress fractures, or a broken toe, and then they came back the next day and continued.”
One woman’s story in particular resonated with Colbert.
“At one point I was walking with a woman who was between her chemo treatments and told her doctor to push off her appointment so she could walk the 60 miles,” Colbert said. The woman was a two-time breast cancer survivor and this was her fifth time walking.
Throughout the weekend she managed to turn any challenging or negative situations into a positive ones, especially with the inclement weather on Oct. 7.
“Abby and I wanted to stay in the tent together so we brought our sleeping bags,” Colbert said. “Even though we slept on a cement floor, it felt like a king-sized bed.”
Rider women’s basketball Assistant Head Coach Pamela Durkin aided in Colbert’s success. Since Coach Durkin’s home was on the route, she allowed Colbert and Grasso to use her bathroom, a welcomed change from the porta-potties that were used for the rest of the weekend. Coach Durkin took her bicycle with her gear decked out in pink and rode alongside Team Abigail.
“It didn’t surprise me when I heard she was going to do the 3-Day,” Durkin said. “I just wanted to be a friendly face in the crowd to maybe help give her a little burst of adrenaline.”
Along her route she encountered many motivational people, including a firefighter who trained and walked with all of his gear on for the entire 60 miles, a man who signs up for each 3-Day in honor of his late first wife and has walked 1,080 miles in total, as well as the people in the cheering sections.
“The excitement and having everyone around you makes you want to keep going,” Colbert said. “The people were so passionate.”
The Philadelphia walk alone included 1,700 participants and raised more than $4.5 million to donate to the Susan G. Komen Foundation.
According to Colbert, the 3-Day Walk for the Cure was very meaningful.
“The experience was life-changing and something I’ll never forget,” Colbert said. “And I’ll definitely be doing it again.”