Local ladies walk for breast cancer research

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, June 9, 2010

NATCHEZ — Several local ladies are getting their toes ready for a pretty big feat.

Team Boobapalooza, made up of Christy Anderson, LaWanda Baskin, Amanda Criswell, Lara Griffiths, Jessi Knight, Marcia McCullough, Melissa Serio and Heather Smith, is training for the breast cancer 3-Day for the Cure in Dallas in November.

The three-day walk covers 60 miles and all the proceeds from money raised are donated to the Susan G. Komen for the Cure foundation.

The walk doesn’t start until Nov. 5, but the team members have been hard at work training for the past couple of months.

Anderson and Criswell have one year of experience after completing the Breast Cancer 3- Day last year in Atlanta, but all the other ladies are gearing up for their first event.

Baskin said after following the journey of Anderson and Criswell last year, she knew she wanted to join in, if the duo decided to walk again.

“I was a big encourager last year and would get a text message each time they reached a milestone,” Baskin said. “It was great to be a part of their journey that way last year.”

But Baskin has a personal reason for walking, too. She lost her grandmother to breast cancer.

“We have come so far with the types of treatments available since (my grandmother) was diagnosed,” Baskin said. “I want to be a part of this project in hopes of finding better treatments and a cure.

“It isn’t the likely death sentence that it was when she was diagnosed, but we need a cure.”

The team has set a fundraising goal of $20,000, but each team member has to raise at least $2,300 to be eligible to walk the walk.

Serio almost joined Anderson and Criswell last year. So when the opportunity came along to do it this year, she wasn’t going to let it pass.

“I saw how rewarding it was for them last year,” she said. “I wanted to do my part to fight this cancer, too.”

So far the team members are doing three and four miles walks, but the distance will begin ramping up soon. When registering, walkers receive an online trainer to help along the way, which is a good thing, all the ladies said.

Between work, family and school, it’s hard to squeeze in the time for the training necessary to be ready for the grueling 20 miles days.

Griffiths, whose best friend is a breast cancer survivor, said the goal makes the challenge worth it.

“When you look logically at your schedule and how this fits into it, it doesn’t,” Griffiths said. “You just have to fit it in and make things work.”

But they are each committed to finishing.

“It seems almost impossible to think we are going to do this,” Baskin said. “But, I’m going to complete it no matter what.”

For Knight, by completing the 60 miles she hopes to be an encourager for other people her age to be aware of the breast cancer risks.

“I guess you would say that I’m the baby of the team,” she said. “But I think my role is to show people that even in your early 20s you are at risk and that you can do something to help find a cure.”

In the training, the team never walks more than 17 miles until the actual event, but are preparing themselves for all types of terrain.

“You never set foot on the same pavement twice,” Anderson said. “They don’t pick the easiest terrain for you, either. You never know what is going to be over the next hill or around the next corner.”

To help reach their $20,000 goal, the women are hosting a Night in Pink formal event from 6 to 9 p.m. on June 26 at the Prentiss Club.

Tickets are $100 a couple and there will be hors d’oeuvres, music entertainment, door prizes and a cash bar.

“Everyone in Natchez likes to get dressed up,” Griffiths said. “This is a good reason to do that.”

The group is also accepting donations for an August garage sale and is gathering donated items for raffles.

The group has already received donations of tanning packages and accommodations at Monmouth and Rising Son Bed and Breakfast.

“We are doing anything we can to help raise money,” Anderson said. “This is one way so many different people can be a part of this journey and fight against breast cancer.”

The team is also selling pieces of ribbon for $5 each that will be sewn together to create tutus to be worn during the walk and maybe even during training. The ribbons can be personalized with names in honor of or in memory of loved ones.

“If I have to, I’ll make sure every one of these team members is out wearing a tutu at 4:30 in the morning while we are walking,” Anderson said. “We will do anything to make sure we reach our goal.”

Anyone interested in purchasing tickets for Night in Pink, purchasing ribbons or donating items for door prizes, raffles or the garage sale should contact Anderson at 601-807-5844.

Track the team’s progress and make donations to individual team members on their breast cancer 3-Day for the Cure Web sites.

Griffiths sister Emily Dale will be walking for an injured Marcia McCullough in the event.