THE POWER OF PINK: STUDENTS PARTICIPATE IN MAKING STRIDES AGAINST BREAST CANCER

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Getting out of bed at 7 a.m., students rummage through their closets for the best pink attire they can find. After arriving in West Palm Beach, they quickly throw out their coffee cups before participating in the Making Strides Against Breast Cancer walk. A.R.T.S Club hosted a team of 50 students on the morning of Oct. 26 and walked a 5K down Datura Street to honor breast cancer survivors, raise money toward a cure, and unite the community.A.R.T.S. Club became involved with Making Strides Against Breast Cancer after late social studies teacher Lea Jefferson lost her second battle of breast cancer and passed away in 2015. Her passing inspired A.R.T.S. Club and its sponsor, social studies teacher Sarah Ray, to become more involved with the organization.

“Ms. Jefferson and I wanted to get involved in a more localized initiative. The first time I walked with A.R.T.S. Club, Lea and I co-sponsored the club, because she was beginning to fight cancer and I wanted to help her,” Ms. Ray said. “I didn’t think that it was going to be her last year attending. Since then, I have made sure A.R.T.S. Club has a team, and we try to raise money for Making Strides.” 

With October being Breast Cancer Awareness Month, students have immersed themselves in promoting to find a cure. There was a “pink-out” this past Friday, and the walk followed the next day. At the walk, some students went above and beyond with their attire, such as communications freshman Kate Wagner, who even had pink face paint in the shape of hearts on the corners of her eyes. 

According to breastcancer.org, breast cancer is among the most commonly diagnosed cancer among American women, only second to skin cancer. In 2019, it’s estimated that about 30 percent of newly diagnosed cancers in women will be breast cancer. Among the many who have been diagnosed are the family and friends of students.

One of my friends had breast cancer, and it affected the way I see life because people going through it try to live [in the] moment,” digital media sophomore Kadmiel Rivera said. “They are trying to live every part of their life because they are trying to fight it. Sadly, when [my friend] passed away, I realized that she wasn’t there anymore and how much [her] happiness had affected [me].”

Although not every student at the event was personally connected to breast cancer, they all tried to raise spirits and support the cure alongside others. R.O.T.C programs from other schools attended and chanted, getting the participants excited about the walk. 

“The event was so energetic,” digital media sophomore Nicolette Carew said. “Everyone was pumped about raising awareness for the cause, so the atmosphere was overall positive.” 

As people walked through the inflatable arch, students ran through the crowd on the sidelines giving high-fives. Despite having woken at dawn on a Saturday, participants kept the energy up by dancing along the sidewalks with their friends. 

After the 5K was over, everyone rushed over to sign a pink fire truck that was parked at the entrance. By the end of the walk, it was covered in signatures.  

“My favorite part of the event was signing my name and reading what everyone else wrote,” Carew said. 

Although the majority only signed their names, some participants included inspiring messages. A.R.T.S Club members like Carew read them before writing their own signatures, serving as a testament to the community that stands with survivors and those diagnosed. 

Next year, participants plan to rejoin the sea of pink in Making Strides Against Breast Cancer walk. The walk was emotional for students like Rivera, who made a “promise to go to events like this for breast cancer” before their loved ones passed away. For some, the finish line was met with an outpouring of tears and emotion.  

Remembering their loved ones that have passed and people close to them that have fought, Making Strides Against Cancer has not only made an impact to individuals at school, but the community as a whole. Now, members of A.R.T.S Club not only walk for Ms. Jefferson, but for everyone affected.