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55,000 at Jones Beach breast cancer walk

Walkers participate in the annual American Cancer Society’s

Walkers participate in the annual American Cancer Society’s Making Strides Against Breast Cancer walk, at Jones Beach, Sunday. (Oct. 17, 2010) Photo Credit: Ed Betz

The annual American Cancer Society’s Making Strides Against Breast Cancer walk Sunday brought out some 55,000 participants and raised $2.88 million, event organizers said.

Those who walked the 5 miles at Jones Beach included survivors, relatives of lost loved ones and many who simply wanted to be involved to support the fight against breast cancer on a crisp and sunny fall morning.

Thoughts from some participants:

A survivor:

Because her own mother had died of breast cancer, Jean O’Donnell, 43, had annual MRIs as well as mammograms. An MRI detected her breast cancer in March 2009. “If I hadn’t had the MRI . . . I would never have found out,” said the medical technologist from Huntington.

After a mastectomy, chemotherapy and radiation, she has been cancer-free. It took her two hours to complete yesterday’s walk, accompanied by her two children, relatives and friends, who raised $800. “It was such a beautiful day,” she said. “It felt good that I was healthy enough to do it. Last year, I didn’t feel well enough.”

The Mammo Glams:

For Linda Trent and a group of girlfriends from college, walking was a way to honor the bond with the women in her life. Trent, 39, of Holtsville, gathered former collegemates from their days at Adelphi University, and their daughters, even though they haven’t been personally affected by breast cancer. A group of 11 donned T-shirts with their team name, Mammo Glams.

“We said, ‘Let’s get behind something positive,” Trent explained. “We’re all women. We have daughters. It’s also very spiritual.”

In memory of Carmela Kidney:

Bo Markes walked while wearing a T-shirt emblazoned with his late fiancee’s picture. Markes, 53, of Patchogue, was with Carmela Kidney, 52, for 12 years before she lost her six-year battle with breast cancer in June. “We used to do this walk all the time,” he said of their Jones Beach strolls. “She loved the beach,” said Kidney’s sister, Donna Gianelli, 44, of Ronkonkoma, carrying Kidney’s favorite stuffed doll, a musical bear dressed as Tinkerbell.

Team Rosa: Maria Nuñez said in Spanish that it was as if she could feel her sister’s presence during the walk. “She was walking with us,” said Nuñez, 54, of Amityville, as she clutched a framed photo of Rosa Marmol, 64, of Copiague, who died of breast cancer three years ago. Five of Marmol’s seven children were among 75 family members and friends who walked in her memory, wearing pink “Team Rosa” T-shirts.

“I feel so good to be part of a movement like this,” said Marmol’s daughter, Eduvigis Smith, 44, of Copiague.

For her mother:

It has been just two months since Christine Ardito lost her mother, Jeanne Palermo, to breast cancer. Ardito, 26, of Sayville, waited for more friends to join her group before starting the walk. “We’re trying to find the positive during a very sad time,” she said. “It feels good to see that so many people came out,” said Chris Reilly, 26, of Holbrook, whose mother and Palermo were best friends.

Twice a survivor:

Pattie Venti walked along the boardwalk with pink ribbon temporary tattoos on both cheeks to signify surviving breast cancer twice. Venti, 61, of North Merrick, has been cancer-free since 2008.

“It’s a good feeling to see people out there who are surviving,” she said. “I carry that breast cancer gene and so I’m lucky to be here. I feel very lucky and very blessed.”

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