For the first time, the Weekend to End Women’s Cancers will make its way through the East End, bringing thousands of walkers through the Beach during their weekend-long, 60 km fundraising walk to benefit Princess Margaret Hospital.
For one Beacher, the walk is a chance to celebrate the lives of several relatives who lost their battles with cancer. Stacy Burns has done the walk with her sister for three years, but this year will be the first walk without their mother, who lost her battle with brain cancer in January. Both of Burns’ grandmothers were lost to breast cancer, and as she said, “once we got involved there was just no turning back.”
Along with family and friends, Burns formed the Sisterhood of the Travelling Boobs, Brains and Bums Team, in honour of friends and relatives fighting or lost to breast, brain and prostate cancer. Over the last two years the team has raised over $50,000, and the goal this year for the 23-person team is to match that amount in a single year. So far the team is at $15,000, with another $10,000 sponsorship on the way.
Burns said one of the great aspects of the walk is the support from the communities the participants walk through over the two days. Many people line sidewalks to cheer on the walkers, some going so far as to hand out snacks and drinks. One young girl serenaded the walkers from her front lawn with a karaoke machine.
Simply walking 60 km total through the city is a bonus on its own, she added.
“One of the nicest features of the walk is that you get to see a lot of neighbourhoods that you otherwise wouldn’t see,” said Burns.
Of course, despite the fun and supportive nature of the walk, many of those taking part are doing so because they or someone they love have been directly affected by cancer. The opening and closing ceremonies can be particularly touching, she said.
“There’s often lots of tears shed,” she said.
The walk will come through the Beach on Saturday morning, and organizers are hoping to rally a crowd at a few locations in particular. Fairmount Park, the boardwalk at the foot of Lee and Lakeshore at Winner’s Circle are the three main rallying points in the neighbourhood. Beachers are asked to come out and help cheer on the several thousand walkers who have all raised a minimum of $2,000 each to take part in the walk.
Chris Yaccato is helping organize the boardwalk cheering point, and said the cause is something everyone should be able to get behind.
“I’d encourage everyone to come out and support those who’ve dedicated themselves to this challenge,” he said.
Burns said the walk is a great way to feel good about making an impact, but the emphasis is on the fact that walkers really are making a difference.
“The weekend is one of the events where you feel like you really make an impact, and I think they do a great job of communicating where their dollars go and what they’re trying to do at Princess Margaret,” said Burns. “I lost both of my grandmothers to breast cancer, one just this year and one many years ago when I was eight. This year I lost my mom to brain cancer, and although the funds are dedicated to women’s cancer, any advancement in research, in treatment, in patient care, it’ll benefit anyone who’s bravely facing cancer, as well as their families.”
Details on the Beach and other cheering sections can be found at to13.endcancer.ca or endcancer.ca. To donate to the Sisterhood of the Travelling Boobs, Brains and Bums Team, visit endcancer.ca/goto/thesisterhood.
Burns’ team is holding a fundraiser tonight, Tuesday, Aug. 27. From 7 to 8 p.m., everyone is welcome to enjoy yoga on the beach at the Leuty Lifeguard Station. Arrive by 6:45 p.m. and bring a mat or towel and a bottle of water, and wear comfortable clothes. A pay-what-you-can donation will be collected to go towards the team’s fundraising efforts.