Despite the rain, wind and cold, 2,500 people turned out to Soldier Field last week to participate in the American Cancer Society’s 44th Walk & Roll Chicago, which this year raised nearly half a million dollars for cancer research.
The event hosted 229 teams and included a 5k walk or run, 10K skate and a 15k bike ride, raising a total of $461,389.56, according to the American Cancer Society website.
Sarah Little, 26, has lost both her mother and her older sister to breast cancer and for over six years she has been a program manager and volunteer for the American Cancer Society.
“I’m very connected to the mission of ACS,” Little said. “Cancer has touched me and my family personally.”
The event attracted some high-profile guests who spoke and participated, including CBS 2 meteorologist Mary Kay Kleist, speed skater Shani Davis, who won a gold medal at the 2006 Olympics, and Tracey Stills, a breast-cancer survivor. DJ 4 Sure Entertainment provided music for the runners, walkers, bicyclists and skaters.
Jessie Urban, community manager of special events for the American Cancer Society, said participation in Walk & Roll is important to not only spreading the message but also helps to save lives.
“Whether they’re a survivor, a caregiver or they know someone that’s been touched by cancer, we all want to make a difference and it’s coming out, it’s spreading awareness at events like this, but also, with their donations and raising money,” Urban said. “That money for our mission goes to fund our research and programs and services, which are truly saving lives.”
Nikky Verburet, 25, is part of the recreational roller derby team in Chicago and despite the challenging weather, she roller-skated for Walk & Roll Chicago.
“On the way back it was better because the rain kind of stopped,” Verburet said.
Verburet added participating was important because the event brought everyone together who shares a connection with cancer.
According to the American Cancer Society’s website, cancer.org, as of Jan. 1, 2014, there were nearly 14.5 million living Americans who have a history of cancer and over one-and-a-half million new cancer cases are expected to be diagnosed this year in the United States. This figure does not even include some noninvasive cancers such as bladder cancer, basal cell or squamous cell skin cancers.
Little said she is lucky to work of the American Cancer Society, which is the largest voluntary global public health organization, touting three million volunteers worldwide.
“I’ve been fortunate to work in Mission Delivery where I get to work with volunteers and programs that directly affect patients when they need the help the most,” Little said.
“To be able to enter a patient’s life at one of their most vulnerable moments and be able to help them is very humbling.”