Throughout October, St. John’s has been raising awareness and raising funds to help find a cure for breast cancer. The culmination of this was the 13th annual Strides against Breast Cancer Walk in Flushing Meadows-Corona Park on Oct. 16.
St. John’s got involved with breast cancer awareness 13 years ago when it was approached by the American Cancer Society to become a flagship sponsor for the Strides walk. That year close to 200 people participated in the walk. Now, the walk attracts over 600 people within the university. In addition to the walk, more and more events are being held during the month to help raise awareness.
Assistant for Community Relations Margaret Cashin is part of the American Cancer Society Committee at St. John’s that oversees all of the breast cancer events on campus. The committee is made up of people from different offices within the University, ranging from Campus Ministry, Athletics, Student Life, the Pharmacy Department.
The idea for the committee came after the University’s first walk with Strides. Cashin said the amount of work involved in organanizing it was overwhelming for just one department. “We realized that we needed assistance,” she said. “A request was made to form a committee and they responded by allowing workers from different offices to assist us.”
Although the majority of the events through the month has focused on raising funds for research there has also been a response educating thepublic. Cashin said that a healthy balance between fundraising and education is what the committee tries to strive for. “Education has got to be as important as fundraising,” she said.“Funds translate to research and research is what will help find the cure.”
Cashin said she has been impressed with the amount of enthusiasm the student body has shown in educating their peers. “The student body has rallied behind the cause,” she said. “We’ve had several sororities hold different forums on breast cancer awareness,” she said. “We had one event where there was a 28-year-old cancer survivor. She’s been fighting the disease for over a year and now works for American Cancer Society.”
Other events like the High-heel-athon held on the Great Lawn on Oct. 13 have tried to get students involved on campus. Cashin highlighted that there have been many different events that try and engage students in a fun and interesting way. “We had an athletic fun run where we set up pink ribbons all around campus,” she said. Sciame said that he gets a sense of pride when looking at the student body working together for a good cause. “It’s a proud moment when you see people who are working together,” he said adding that the proudest moment comes “when you see all those red shirts at the walk.”
Vice President of Community Relations Joseph Sciame, also a member of the committee, says that the response to breast cancer is a reflection of the University’s Vincentian mission. “If you look at the life of St. Vincent,he went to into the world and helped people in need. How can you not be concerned when there are people getting sick and dying out there?”
Cashin said that it was impossible to recognize everybody involved for making all of these events possible. “There’s just an endless amount of support from all the offices,” she said. Sciame said that the committee is made of people who “Are trying to make a difference in the world.”
Cashin said that the ultimate goal of their efforts is to help put an end to breast cancer. “Our ultimate goal is to not have to walk next year.”