Everyone knows someone who has been touched by breast cancer. For some it’s a mother or sister, or a niece or cousin, and still for others it’s a wife or co-worker.

That is why so many make the annual gathering at Woodbury Common’s for “Making Strides Against Breast Cancer” a ritual. It has become a place where you are not alone. It’s safe to show your head with no hair. No one judges because they understand. Here there are no divides such as race or religion. There is only unity and it is visually represented by the color pink.

As far as one could see, there were thousands of people, and four legged friends, clad in pink as a sign of unification. They were unified in the hope and belief that by walking and raising money for this worthy cause, this will be the year that a cure is finally found.

This year’s event has raised over $250,000, according to its website (as of Sunday). All monies will go to the American Cancer Society, which will assist in continuing the hard-fought battle against breast cancer.

Lynn Haskin, right, walks with an eleven-year-survivor, joining thousands of people, including cancer survivors, their families and businesses, who participated in the annual American Cancer Society Making Strides Against Breast Cancer walk at Woodbury Common Premium Outlets in Central Valley, NY on Sunday, October 15, 2017. Hudson Valley Woman/CHUCK STEWART, JR.

Joan Pagones, who raised over $3,000 says her story is like so many others…  “breast cancer is a very personal cause for me.” So when asked why she is making strides, her answer is simply, “Together with my community, I’m working toward that day. It gives me the chance to make a difference and to honor those touched by breast cancer by raising funds for groundbreaking research, and services for people dealing with breast cancer.”

Madelene Carlton, a three-year survivor, was surrounded by family who vowed to never give up the fight against breast cancer. They walked under the banner of “Team Pink.”

The family of Maureen Flippin, who lost her fight to breast cancer, were present to march in her memory. “She may be gone, but she will never be forgotten.”

Jessica Torres was diagnosed in March with breast cancer and has completed her treatment. “I am here today with my family thanks to the grace of God,” she said. More than a dozen family members joined her for Sunday’s walk, united under the banner “#JesicaStrong.”

There were also an assortment of vendors on hand, from health food options, to pink clothing and accessories, as well as information on mammograms provided by local health care professionals. A live broadcast of the event was provided by WHUD.

Hundreds of volunteers contributed to the success of this year’s event, including area high schools, like Newburgh Free Academy, Monroe-Woodbury, and Cornwall. They cheered, provided high-five’s and handed out water and encouraging words.

All these thing contributed to the overall positive atmosphere that uplifted everyone who walked.

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