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In step for cancer cure

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Posted: Saturday, October 23, 2004 6:38 am | Updated: 5:44 pm, Thu Oct 6, 2011.

Muscles aching, feet a little sore and with 20 miles behind them, nearly 2,000 men and women folded their tents this morning and renewed their determination to tackle the second leg of their three-day journey in becoming a living memorial to those battling breast cancer.

Starting at Scottsdale’s Rawhide Western Town and Steakhouse early Friday and walking through the day until camping at Horizon High School on Friday night, survivors and those who love them raised more than $5.3 million in Arizona’s first 3-Day Breast Cancer Walk for the Susan G. Komen Foundation and National Philanthropic Trust.

During the opening sunrise ceremony Friday, Dr. Deborah Douglas lauded the walkers, saying, "Today we create a living, breathing, human monument."

Arizona’s is the last of 10 nationwide three-day walks, an event in which participants must raise a minimum of $2,000 before taking a step.

"We have 46 states represented, and a couple of Canadians thrown in as well," said the walk’s CEO, Howard Sitron, on Friday.

A jubilant team of 17 East Valley walkers calling themselves the "Happy Nookers" jumped up and down to keep warm in the predawn hours Friday, waiting for the walk to begin.

Collectively, the Happy Nookers walked 7,363 miles to train and raised $45,000, said team leaders Bernard Jeffcut and Shirley Moss, owners of The Bridal Nook and Tux store in Mesa.

Maria Klimaszewski of Tempe said she’s walking to honor 21 survivors, whose names she had hand-stitched in pink thread on her white cargo hat. One of them was friend and fellow Happy Nooker, Myra Iker of Chandler.

"I think anything that we can do to support this helps," Iker said. "It was seven years ago on Halloween that I had a lumpectomy."

Scottsdale resident Ava Genung — a five-year survivor — and her daughter, Jacque Genung-Koch, walked together for Genung and another family member whose cancer has worsened.

"We thought this was a great opportunity . . . to do something courageous to help find a cure for breast cancer," Genung said.

Joining his wife Erin, Mike Sports of Litchfield Park was one of 156 men walking the Arizona 3-Day. He said men "definitely perceive breast cancer as a woman’s cancer," but that the cancer touches both sexes.

Walkers sported pink feather boas, lighted pins, pink-and-yellow rubber cancer fund-raising bracelets and Tshirts silk-screened with photos of breast cancer survivors.

Walker Tiffany Furrow, 34, of Thornton, Colo., attached a ladybug helium balloon to herself. It later identified her "home" among the sea of twoperson tents at camp.

Furrow’s shirt was dotted with flashing pins, including a small pin depicting female breasts that she jokingly called her "booby pin." Furrow is walking to honor her mother, a three-year survivor, and other friends who have died of the disease.

Hurricane weather slowed down Charleston, S.C., resident Angela Adams’ training schedule, but didn’t stop her from taking 10- and 20-mile preparation walks.

"It made it hard to train; you couldn’t go outside," she said. "It happened for three weeks in a row in October and September."

Blisters became a common ailment as the walk continued.

CIGNA Healthcare of Arizona, Southwest Ambulance and Foothills Physical Therapy are providing care along the route and in large medical tents in camp at night, said Dr. William Acker, medical captain for the event.

Walkers could tend to blisters in a "self-care" tent, Acker said. A team of 50 to 60 CIGNA doctors and nurses are treating sprains, strains and other injuries in a sports medicine tent and a triage unit.

Tonight, walkers will camp at Scottsdale Community College, but not before standing on their tired feet a little longer to grab a shower and chow, and contemplate the final haul to Tempe Beach Park on Sunday.

To participate

Information: To register for next year’s event, contact

www.the3day.org.

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