The Avon Breast Cancer Walk makes it possible for ordinary people to save lives. This tremendous fundraising event involves millions of people in eight cities who walk several miles over a two-day period. Their purpose is to raise the money needed to eradicate a disease that will claim the lives of approximately 40,970 women and 460 men in 2006.
The Avon Foundation, a registered 501 (c)(3) public charity, manages the funds raised through the Avon Breast Cancer Walk. Avon, a cosmetics company, established the Foundation in 1955 with the mission of improving the lives of women and families. Today, the Foundation continues that mission with a focus on addressing issues related to breast cancer and domestic abuse. The Foundation awards monies to support breast cancer education and awareness programs; breast cancer screening and diagnosis; access to treatment; support services; and scientific research that involves learning what causes the disease, developing prevention techniques, improving treatments, and finding a cure. Monies raised from the Avon Breast Cancer Walk are earmarked for the Foundation's Breast Cancer Crusade. The Crusade funds access to care for underserved populations - minorities, the poor, the elderly, and the under- and uninsured. It also provides funding for research that works to find a cure for breast cancer.
From 2003, the inaugural year of the event, through 2005, the Avon Breast Cancer Walk has raised $100 million. It is important to note that before 2003, the Walk was known as the Avon Breast Cancer 3 Day Walk, which involved walking 20 miles on each of three days. Many people may still refer to it by this name. However, the Avon Breast Cancer 3 Day Walk ended in 2002 because Pallotta TeamWorks, the event's producer, went out of business.
The Avon Breast Cancer Walk is a 26.2 or 39.3 mile walk (depends on the walker's preference) that takes place on a Saturday and Sunday. Walkers can walk 26.2 miles (a marathon) or 13.1 miles on Saturday. On Sunday, those who walked 26.2 miles on Saturday can chose to walk another 13.1 miles. Those who walked 13.1 miles on Saturday walk an additional 13.1 miles on Sunday. Each walker is asked to commit to raising a minimum of $1,800. To help them reach their fundraising and walk goals, participants are assigned a "Walker Buddy" - a trained staff member who helps walkers design fundraising and physical training plans, and offers walkers encouragement and support.
The Walk is held throughout the year in eight different cities: Boston, Charlotte, Chicago, Denver, Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco, and Washington DC. The Avon Foundation, the manager of the money raised through the walks, places a priority on distributing proceeds to the area in which the Avon Breast Cancer Walk takes place. This has enabled these cities to make great strides in alleviating the disease. For instance:
In Boston, the Foundation has provided support for five clinical trials to prevent, treat, and eliminate the recurrence of breast cancer.
In Charlotte, the Foundation provided financial support to over 1,100 low-income women who were receiving breast cancer care.
In Chicago, the Foundation provided support for five public and community-based hospitals that provide breast care services for uninsured, underserved, and minority women.
Because early detection, education, public awareness, research, and prevention are the keys to eliminating breast cancer, participants in the Avon Breast Cancer Walk are helping to save lives.