A walk to remember

Terri Brodeur walk attracts 100s, raises $1,000s
Annual walkathon raises money for breast cancer research

By KATHLEEN EDGECOMB

Breast cancer survivors, their families and friends walked Saturday in the annual Terri Brodeur Breast Cancer Foundation Walk Across Southeastern Connecticut to honor the foundation’s namesake and to raise money that will go directly into breast cancer research.

The day began with opening ceremonies at Saybrook Point where Melanie Brodeur, daughter of Terri Brodeur, reflected “with a swelling sense of pride on how far we’ve come and where we are heading.” Click here to read Melanie’s speech. Click here to view the video.

“I, along with all of you, feel fortunate and grateful to be here. We are the loved ones and the survivors,” she said. “We are the ones who won’t stop stomping our feet and demanding a cure. We are the ones who are here to represent the fallen and to honor their memories by ensuring that the number of cancer victims continues to steadily decline, until this disease has been fully eradicated. We will keep walking.”

More than 400 people signed up to walk a marathon, half-marathon, quarter-marathon or 5K during the foundation’s 14th annual event. It was the biggest turnout since 2009, according to Kate Davis, the walk chair. To date the foundation has raised more than $4.4 million that has funded 44 research grants.

Walkers have until Dec. 31 to settle their fundraising commitments. The foundation expects to raise about $400,000 this year. All the money will go toward $100,000 grants, awarded to researchers who are looking for a cure and better ways to treat breast cancer.

“Last year we funded four research grants, and this year we hope to do the same,” said the foundation’s president, John LaMattina, during closing ceremonies later in the day at Camp Harkness in Waterford. “This year we will do four more … and it’s all because of you.”

“It’s a fantastic day,” Davis said, armed with a clipboard and pen as she made her way through the crowd making sure things were running smoothly. “We couldn’t have had better weather.”

As the walkers passed through a pink and white balloon arch into Camp Harkness, they were greeted with cheers and treated to massages and physical therapy care. There were also group yoga stretches, clam chowder, sandwiches and ice cream.

The Brodeur family, including Terri’s three children, her sisters, her in-laws and family friends, were among the walkers, some starting in Old Saybrook at 7 a.m. to walk all 26.2 miles and others joining the walk in East Lyme for 13.1 miles or 6.55 miles.

“It’s sad but it’s uplifting too,” said Sean Brodeur, who was 7 when his mother died from breast cancer in 2005. His father died a year later, leaving him and his two sisters to be raised by relatives. “It’s really a meaningful day because it brings my whole family together,” he said.

Sean has walked 13 of the 14 marathons and said he will continue to walk until there is a cure and then some.

“If not this, there will be something else to walk for,” said the University of Connecticut senior.

Don Brodeur, Sean’s uncle, said the day is special.

“It’s a nice time to catch up with the family,” he said, greeting his wife Karen after the walk. The walk is different from other fundraisers, he said, because all the money raised goes to research.

Judy Teel of Salem, sporting short pink hair and pink accessories, has walked the marathon 12 times with Pam’s Pink Posse team. This year, she took some breaks during the 26.2 walk and caught a few rides along the way, but walked proudly through the balloon arch raising her hands in victory. She walks, and will continue to walk, because breast cancer affects so many people, and not just the one battling the disease, she said, but family, friends and the community.

“It’s a fabulous day,” she said. “All the love you feel today is great. It’s just a great feeling.”

Janice Kmetz of Deep River, walked with 13 members of her Pink Cosmos team. Over the years she has raised more than $16,000 for the Brodeur Foundation.

“It’s such a great organization,” she said. “They don’t take any of the money for administrative costs. It gives 100 percent to research. I love that.”

Anne Ogden, the honorary walk chair, spoke during closing ceremonies sharing her journey with breast cancer. During the past few months, she has shared her words and images on the Brodeur Foundation website and through social media, encouraging others to support those newly diagnosed with cancer and to help them live their best life. Click here to read Anne’s speech. Click here to view video

She walked the 5K with her team she called Anne’s Angels.

“If someone you know just found out they have cancer, be genuine, supportive and help them get in touch with others who understand,” she said. “Because in the very beginning when you are faced with this hurricane, talking to others who get it – will be the best support.

“Believe me, we all find a way to get through each phase. Along the way, there are feelings of sadness, isolation, confusion, and even anger as you face each day because it’s a grieving process for what was, and an adaptation to what is, no matter how the pendulum swings.”

Survivors were handed pink carnations at the conclusion of the ceremony.

 

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