Kate Davis stepping down as walk chair

Kate Davis stepping down as walk chair

By KATHLEEN EDGECOMB

 

Kate Davis began volunteering with the Terri Brodeur Breast Cancer Foundation in 2016 and the following year started working in the office. In 2017, she took over organizing the annual walking marathon from Old Saybrook to Waterford, the foundation’s signature fundraiser.

“She just jumped right in,” said Pat Newborg, the former walk chair, who trained Davis that first year. “She is just fabulous.”

Just before the October walk that year, the foundation discovered that the Town of Waterford was replacing a bridge in a residential neighborhood blocking the path of the more than 350 walkers who participated that year.

“I was away and when I got back Kate had taken it upon herself to look for different ways to get around the bridge,” said Newborg, who has been involved with the foundation since the first walk in 2006.

Davis, a former air traffic controller, did what comes naturally. She saw an obstacle and found a solution. She took charge.

But she’s stepping down as walk chair. She will remain as operations manager, keeping the office running smoothly, and will continue to volunteer as procurement manager for the walk, taking care of such things as renting porta potties and making sure there are tents, tables and chairs at pit stops along the walk route.

“She’s been great from the beginning,” said Sandy Maniscalco, co-founder of TBBCF. “But what she was able to do in 2020 and 2021 is beyond great.”

During her tenure, Davis organized the addition of a 5K to the walk to encourage more participants and organized the first ever virtual walk in 2020 in response to Covid-19 restrictions. Last year’s walk in 2021 was a hybrid – in-person walkers and virtual walkers. After months of planning, Davis is the one at the finish line on walk day, clipboard in hand, making sure all is running smoothly.

In 2019, 401 people participated in the walk, the following October, 303 people participated in a virtual walk and last year, 365 walked in person or virtually. Despite the obstacles, the foundation managed to raise enough money to award $100,000 grants to four researchers in 2021, and three researchers this year.

“I love the foundation,” Davis said, adding she will remain active. “It’s time to get some fresh blood.

And, she said, will now be able to walk in the marathon, something she has not been able to do as much because of her duties as walk chair.

Ellen Swercewski, who was walk chair for several years and knows how much work goes into planning the one-day event, said what she likes about Davis is her “laser focus”. Davis does a great job addressing any issues that arise, she said.

“And, she’s always coming up with ideas to get people engaged,’ Swercewski said, pointing to contests and interesting social media posts. “She made it fun and was always thinking outside the box. She is a wonderful human being.”

Patti Burmahl, president of the board of directors said Davis has been, and will continue to be, a tremendous asset to the foundation.

“Her leadership of our walk, our signature fundraising event, has been amazing including adding the 5k and having to completely pivot quickly to a virtual walk in 2020, which was very successful. I don’t think people realize all that goes into planning and organizing our Walk – it is months and months of work and Kate’s organization, energy, positive attitude and leadership of a great team makes this look seamless. I look forward to continuing to partner with Kate in her operations director role where she will continue to make a positive impact,” Burmahl said.

Davis said she is ready to mentor the new walk chair.

“I’m really excited about this,” she said.

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