Life doesn’t always go the way you plan; most of the time you have no idea what its path holds in store.
This Saturday, Aug. 7, the third annual Walk2BeFit Health Fair in Plantation will celebrate the women who had their journey interrupted by a dreadful encounter with breast cancer.
“As with our past health fairs, [this year’s event] communicates a profound sense of inspiration and imparts life-changing information regarding health and well being through public education,” said Jacqueline
R. Gray, founder of Woman2Woman Breast Cancer Foundation, the event’s main sponsor.
Aimed at children and adults, the fair will kick off with a one-mile leisure walk. It will feature all kinds of snacks, entertainment and cheering along the way.
Prizes will include a laptop for the participant who brings the most friends and family to the event, and there will be drawings for an Xbox 360 New Edition, IPOD Touch Next Generation and an Olympus 14.1 megapixel digital camera.
Children’s activities such as a bounce house, face painting, an appearance by the local fire department, a dunk tank, and giveaways of back-to-school supplies will follow.
Adults will have access to specialists in blood pressure, body mass index, chiropractic care, education and prevention, exercise and nutrition, and sickle-cell disease. Many of the specialists will be W2W partners.
The idea for the foundation came from Gray’s own encounter with breast cancer. Diagnosed at 39, the former teacher in the Broward County school system endured a year of draining treatment protocols of surgery, radiation and chemotherapy. Since November 2007, she has worked to forge partnerships to serve low-income women who otherwise would not have had access to prevention, screening and care services.
“I wanted to make sure women had support they really need. Going through breast cancer is tough emotionally, physically and financially,” she said. “We give them the support and structure that they can’t find within their household.”
A promoter of early detection, Gray also provides women with low or even cost-free mammograms. When cancer is found early, it can be more easily treated, and often cured. Gray said that out of the 500 women the organization has helped so far, 65 percent of whom were black or Hispanic, only four had their lives cut short by the disease.
“We support other breast cancer organizations, but W2W stands out for the demographics it targets,” said Jeff Feulner, South Florida territory manager for Walgreens, which will provide food and book supplies for the fair. “Other organizations don’t help that many people of color.”
Gray’s work is significant in the face of statistics. Data published by the American Cancer Society shows that breast cancer is the second most common cause of cancer death among African-American women.
And while black women are less likely than white women to get breast cancer, they’re more likely to die from it. The cancer mortality rate for African-American women is 36 percent higher than that of white women, even though their incidence rate is 10 percent lower.
Geneva Lewis, counselor for the foundation, said women find motivation and excitement in the care they receive.
“Women are very particular about their bodies, and breast cancer really hurts their self-esteem. They come in depressed about their inability to work and lack of funds, but knowing they are cared for offers them some relief,” Lewis said. “They are not just a number and we tell them that.”
Gray said the symbolism and happiness of the event can be instrumental in integrating breast cancer patients and their families into their communities. She also said it can give them encouragement to face the physical and emotional obstacles imposed by the disease.
“We are hoping that the fair will continue to raise awareness of the importance of breast cancer and healthy living for families in our communities,” she said.
“We look forward to seeing the community come out for a day of fun as we all continue to get healthy together.”
IF YOU GO
WHAT: Third Annual Walk2BeFit Health Fair presented by Woman2Woman Breast Cancer Foundation.
WHEN: Saturday, Aug. 7. Walk begins at 8 a.m.; health fair opens at 9 a.m.
WHERE: Deicke Auditorium, 5700 Cypress Road, Plantation.
COST: Free. Online registration is available through: http://www.w2wbcf.org/events/news_be-fit-healthfair.html
CONTACT: Jacqueline Gray, 954-730-7338.