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60,000 join in breast cancer walk at Jones Beach

Jones Beach was covered with every shade of pink Sunday, Oct. 15, 2017, as walkers took over the boardwalk to support breast cancer research. The 24th annual Making Strides Against Breast Cancer walk, held in Wantagh by the American Cancer Society, aimed to raise $2.5 million. Organizers estimated more than 60,000 people participated. Credit: Ed Betz

Jones Beach was filled with every shade of pink Sunday as walkers took over the boardwalk to support breast cancer research.

The 24th annual Making Strides Against Breast Cancer walk, held in Wantagh by the American Cancer Society, aimed to raise $2.5 million.

Organizers estimated more than 60,000 participated Sunday. The walk raised an estimated $2.5 million.

Many participants wore rosy-hued shirts emblazoned with names and faces of loved ones for whom they were walking.

One of the teams that raised the most money was uniquely named “Bald and Boujee.”

More than 100 people walked for Alyssa Meyer, 24, who was diagnosed with breast cancer in April and has been in remission since early October. Her mother, Maria Meyer, 52, of Hauppauge, said it was overwhelming to be among so many people going through a similar experience.

“We are hoping somehow, somewhere, soon there will be a cure,” Meyer said. “Twenty-three is way too young for breast cancer, for her or anybody else.”

Alyssa Meyer said in an interview later that the walk was one of the first awareness events she attended and that celebrating with other women who’ve been through the same journey was “really comforting.”

“It [cancer] doesn’t have to be the worst thing. There’s a lot of good that can come out of it and you can find support from the true friends that you have,” Meyer said. “It is the only way to get through it.”

Survivors of breast cancer wore stickers marked with the number of years they have been in remission.

Leslie D’Elia, of Malverne, has been a survivor for the past 13 years. She has attended the walk for the last decade as a way to promote awareness.

“It’s fantastic and rejuvenating,” said D’Elia, 59. “It gives you hope that there will be a cure.”

Michelle Immel, 43, of Shirley, said that seeing the sheer number of participants made her realize the reach of the disease.

“You just don’t realize how many people it affects until you’re here,” she said. “People who are suffering from it are not alone.”

This year, more than 252,000 women are estimated to be diagnosed with breast cancer in the United States and nearly 41,000 are estimated to die from the disease, according to the American Cancer Society.

But participants spoke about hope and optimism despite the odds, and shared stories. Lori Macchio, of Merrick, had organized a team of more than 30 people called “Go Grammy Go” who were walking after receiving some very good news. Her mother, who couldn’t attend the walk because of surgery, was declared cancer-free last Friday.

“Normally I’d be annoyed about all the traffic coming to Jones Beach but today, this is wonderful,” said Macchio, 35.

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