Walk for Life brings in more than $600,000 for fight against breast cancer
The 26th annual Walk for Life moved to a new venue and added a new race this year, and organizers liked the results. Event Chairwoman Emily Long looked around the scene at Spirit Communications Park on Saturday morning and said, “it seems like a home run.”
Indeed, it was.
More than 7,000 walkers and runners filled the home of the minor-league Columbia Fireflies baseball team for the walk, 5K and 10K runs, and the inaugural Famously Hot Pink Half Marathon.
With donations still rolling in, the preliminary total raised by event participants and in-kind donations had surpassed $613,000 by Saturday afternoon.
“The beautiful thing is that the money stays here in our community,” said Long, herself a two-year survivor of breast cancer.
The money will help purchase a 3-D digital-mammography unit at Palmetto Health Breast Center at Palmetto Health Baptist hospital. The new 3-D unit will be used for screening and diagnostic mammograms and will improve the early detection of breast cancer.
“Early detection definitely helps save lives,” said Long, who knows firsthand.
The walkers and runners Saturday came to raise awareness as well as money, with many participating in honor of a survivor or a friend or family member lost to the disease.
“I’m here for my mom,” Katie Tillman said, her eyes filling with tears as she spoke of her mother, who ultimately lost her battle with the disease.
Long was diagnosed at age 36 and encourages women to have mammograms such as the one that saved her life.
“At the very least, go at 40,” she advised. “We encourage people to start earlier if they have a concern.”
Columbia’s Walk for Life began in 1991 when former First Lady of Columbia Beth Coble founded the event with Palmetto Health Breast Center staff. Total proceeds from the event over the years so far approach nearly $9 million.
For more information about breast cancer screening and early detection, check out the Palmetto Health Breast Center website.