Making Strides Against Breast Cancer walk

At the start of the Making Strides Against Breast Cancer walk Saturday, Sept. 14, 2019, survivors linked arms and took the first steps past the pink archway. Some burst into a laughing rendition of "We're Off to See the Wizard." Kyrie Long/News-Miner

The sun was shining for Fairbanks’ fifth annual Making Strides Against Breast Cancer walk Saturday morning, marking the first time the charity walk has seen decent weather in Fairbanks.

“We have always had it the last weekend of September, but we moved it two weeks because we’ve done it in the snow and in the rain,” event co-chair Becky Zaverl said.

“And this is our first gorgeous day where people are actually in flip-flops, some of them, so we couldn’t be happier with the day that we have.”

The American Cancer Society sponsors the 5Ks across the country. Zaverl is a breast cancer survivor herself, and helped bring the event to Fairbanks five years ago. She wore a bright pink safety vest, with “committee” stamped across the back, while walking among the gathering participants at Morris Thompson Cultural and Visitors Center.

Making Strides Against Breast Cancer walk

Megan Reynolds, Anna Reynolds and Joss Reynolds attended the Making Strides Against Breast Cancer 5K on Saturday morning, Sept. 14, 2019, in Fairbanks. They attended with Megan's mother, Sharon Young (not pictured), whose cancer treatment inspired Joss's middle name Hope. Kyrie Long/News-MIner

“I’ve always been a supporter of the American Cancer Society for Relay for Life here in town,” Zaverl said, “and then, I knew about this walk and I just thought Fairbanks would love it — just a fun, 5K pink walk and support our breast cancer survivors, men and women in Fairbanks.”

People gathered in front of the stage set up near a pink, blow-up archway where the walk would begin. Among them were Sharon Young, her daughter Megan Reynolds and Megan’s children.

“I’m a five-year breast cancer survivor,” Young said. “Breast cancer has affected my mother-in-law, my sister-in-law, aunts — just numerous relatives, and I have a brother that, even though it was not breast cancer, he passed away because of brain cancer.”

Young said any chance she gets she tries to come out to events like the Making Strides walk or Relay for Life. She and Reynolds wore matching, hot-pink wigs the sparkled under the bright autumn sun. Reynolds daughters had pink sprayed into their hair.

One of the girls was named in the midst of Young’s cancer treatment.

“That’s why the little one, her middle name is Hope, because we found out I had breast cancer when my daughter was pregnant with her,” Young said, “and they were trying to figure out a middle name; and at radiation I kept saying, ‘Hope, Hope, Hope.’”

Young and family joined other families, sports teams, supporters and community members as they moved across the lawn and toward the start of the walk.

Survivors and committee members lined up onstage in front of the crowd to reveal how much money the event had raised just before the walk began.

Making Strides Against Breast Cancer walk

Survivors and committee members at the Making Strides Against Breast Cancer 5K unveil the funds the charity walk had raised by Saturday morning, Sept. 14, 2019. Co-chair of the event, Becky Zaverl, left, read the dollar amount to the crowd. Kyrie Long/News-Miner

As those onstage turned around signs, revealing numbers one by one, Zaverl called out “$61,472” to cheers from a mass of pink-clad supporters.

The money will fund breast cancer research and awareness efforts. “So there’s over 300 of them nationwide and it’s our 27th year nationally for the Making Strides walk,” said Kirsten Swanson, the staff partner from the American Cancer Society, who came up from Anchorage to support the Fairbanks committee.

The walk is noncompetitive and featured a couple of notable features along the way. The Sweet Adelines gathered to sing to people passing on the route. Tables were set up at intervals with bottled water ready for participants.

Making Strides Against Breast Cancer walk

People participating in the Making Strides Against Breast Cancer walk Saturday, Sept. 14, 2019, were given flowers, which they could keep or let go into the Chena River, in memory of a loved on who died of cancer. Kyrie Long/News-Miner

At the William Ransom Wood Centennial Bridge, shortly before the conclusion of the walk, participants could take a flower, handed out by volunteers, and toss it into the river in memory of a loved one who died of cancer.

Contact staff writer Kyrie Long at 459-7510. Follow her on Twitter:@FDNMlocal.