Walking Towards a Cure

Between 500 and 600 St. John’s students, faculty, and administrators were among 10,000 participants in the American Cancer Society’s annual Making Strides Against Breast Cancer Walk-a-Thon held Sunday morning on Queens Boulevard.

Through sponsor contributions, St. John’s walkers raised more than $15,000 which will be donated to the ACS for breast cancer research. Overall, the Queens Division walk raised more than $600,000.

“I’m overwhelmed with the large number of people that turned out,” said Joe Sciame, vice president for Community Relations and co-chair of the Making Strides Against Breast Cancer committee. “It’s a great tribute to the young people.”

Since St. John’s became a flagship sponsor of the event three years ago, more than $65,000 has been donated in the University’s name.

“I think it puts us on a different level,” Sciame said. “St. John’s is about being involved in the community, and despite the fact that many times community people feel that we’re not doing enough for them, this proves that we are.”

Various student organizations turned out to show support for the cause, meeting with other participants in front of Alumni Hall at 9 a.m. The University provided free breakfast and transportation to Queens Borough Hall, where the 5-mile walk kicked off at 11 a.m. The St. John’s Dance and Cheerleading teams, along with the school mascot Thunder, were also on hand.

“We do this every year, and every year it just gets more and more popular,” Student Government, Inc. president Aion Hoque said. “We always think about service and St. John’s and our students as community oriented, so this is just a great way to show that.”

Student participation has increased every year in the Walk-a-Thon, which was held in each New York City Borough and across the country.

“It’s good to know that people of this age that don’t really have to be worried [about breast cancer] at this time are getting involved and giving back to the community,” student David Grabovetsky said.

Despite that, many walkers have dealt with the effects of breast cancer first-hand, and found motivation to participate through their experiences.

“Breast cancer runs in my family, and one of my aunts died from it and two others are diagnosed with it now,” said student Jacelyn Matthews. “I thought the best way to actually help them was by walking and donating my time.”

Melina Comeo, philanthropy chair of the Gamma Phi Beta Sorority added, “I know a lot of my sisters have a lot of personal experience with family members who have had breast cancer, and [finding a cure] is a really good cause to fight for.”

Greek organizations made up a significant number of the walkers, with fraternities and sororities viewing the event as a chance to give back to society.

“It’s very nice that all organizations on campus could come together and unite for such a great cause,” said volunteer Evelyn Antosiewicz.

“It’s a fun thing that everyone can get involved in, and we’re really proud that our sorority, Delta Phi Epsilon, could be such a big part of it,”she added.

Last year, walkers raised $26 million nationwide, a number that looks to be surpassed when this year’s totals are calculated.

“I can’t believe how many students showed up today,” community relations associate director Robert Carr said. “It shows that we’re really here to fight cancer.”

Donations and contribution forms may still be dropped off in Newman Hall, Room 149. Any questions should be directed to Marge Cashin at 990-6687.