Thursday, October 31, 2013

Frostburg students aiding in Strides against Breast Cancer

October 19th, 2013 was a beautiful crisp fall day, though a little chilly, at the Canal Place Festival Grounds in Cumberland Maryland. The field was abuzz with people milling around after making their walk or making their Strides Against Breast Cancer to find out how much money they had made for the cause.
Walking along the usually quiet shop streets of canal place the sound of balloon stick clappers being slapped together by the members of Alpha Phi Omega and the Echo Stars to cheer on the participants reverberated off of the cement buildings. Patrick Travers, president of Alpha Phi Omega says that he was “Happy to see people coming together to support a great cause”. The walkers garbed in all pink, quietly made their way around the path casting a happy grin at these students as they passed them nearing the goal of reaching the 10 foot tall, pink balloon arch. Once past the arch you enter onto a grassy field encircled by gravel, but where people are looking expectantly is the stage, a cement rectangle about 2 feet tall with a roof above. If you look beyond the stage you see a train pull into the canal place station expelling white and grey puffy smoke into the air.
As the walkers finished the host welcomed them back and introduces the Avengers Dance Crew to perform for the people. They broke from their circle and came to the center in from of the stage to perform. Each member wore a pink bandana for the event and their hip-hop choreographed danced seemed to catch the attention of the audience who whooped and hollered as each move was executed (click to watch the performance). These students volunteered to come to the event because as their president Evan Greenberg says “We supported Relay in the past and when they asked us to help out again, we just said ‘yeah’. It’s a good cause and we really enjoy dancing…so why not do it for something we already support?” I managed to get them all to pose for a photo before they left after the event ended and it sounds like they will be requested for many more events as I overheard one of the event coordinators asking Mr. Greenberg to help Big Brothers, Big Sisters by doing a performance for them, and they will be performing at one of the events on Halloween weekend.
(The current members of the Avengers after the event, Left to right: 1st row: LandryYantou, Jonathan Ashby, Alusine Kargbo, 2nd row: Jermirra Burley, 3rd row: Isaac Lendore, Evan Greenberg, Sean Scriber, 4th row: Tyler Lynch)
The avengers were not the only extraordinary people present. People dressed all in pink came to the front of the stage competing for the most pink person at the event, some with giant pink wings, wigs, and even their pets in pink. Once a winner was decided by the cheers of the audience they came back to the hoard of people looking at the stage and the survivors of breast cancer were asked to come to the front of the stage. One there we stood quietly as god was thanked and helpers came by in front of these women passing out yellow roses. Then anyone in the audience who was a care-taker of someone with breast cancer was asked to come forward and much hugging and tears occurred leaving this writer misty eyed in empathy. They exchanged roses, giving their yellow ones to the care-takers and receiving a pink one for themselves to keep. Angelina Sandoval, a Sociology major who viewed this told me that this was her most memorable part of the event “When all the breast cancer survivors and their caregivers stood in front of the stage with their roses. This was so touching; seeing all of these women who fought against breast cancer made me proud. I was also encouraged; I felt the strength and unity of women and families at this event. I felt the love and support that was all around. The beauty of being able to unite for a greater cause made me have faith in the society we live in.
Women who are survivors of breast cancer pointing their roses up to the sky with hope
      Finally the amount of money raised by the participants of the event was to be announced, and people clutching one another’s hands waited and upon hearing over 60,000 dollars was raised the sea of people moved like waves as people jumped at each other for hugs in happiness.               
       The event was over; unsold cupcakes were being passed out to people leaving the fairgrounds, the helpers were taking down tables and path markers, and the big pink balloon arch that moments earlier was a beacon to walkers coming into the event. As she was popping the balloons to the arch down I asked Christy Ayres a member of Alpha Phi Omega and an elementary and early childhood major what her most memorable part of the event was, and she responded “I would have to say that the most memorable part of the Making Strides Against Breast Cancer event was seeing the survivors arrive. It was cold and early in the morning, but they were smiling and ready to go. They are people who have been through so much and they are out there to support the event. I find this to be very inspirational to see. When I see cancer survivors it is a real symbol of hope. I was there to greet them and cheer them on for the walk/run. Their smiles are something I find to be most unforgettable.” 

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