Lisa Burke says it had been her ambition to walk the Susan
G. Komen 3-Day for the Cure walk for about three years.
“The time was right this year – I had lost a considerable
amount of weight last year and wanted to carry on staying fit and trim and I
turn 40 this year, so I thought it would be a tremendous way for me to
commemorate my birthday while at the same time giving back to such an important
What began as a personal journey for Lisa quickly turned
into a group cause as, one by one, friends and acquaintances asked if they
could join her in her journey. Lisa herself says she has now decided to
undertake the walk in honour of her 7-year old daughter Sabrina. “I hope to
goodness they find a cure for breast cancer soon so my daughter’s generation
may never know the pain and suffering caused by cancer,” she states.
Fellow teammates include Lisa Uggeri (who turns 50 on the
very last day of the walk) and young Mia Burke, who at 15 is the youngest participant,
who will be walking with her mum Amy Burke. Other team members include
Christina Kirkaldy, Diana Joseph, Jennifer Woodford, Christina Asch, Deirdre
Billes, Nisha Bismillah, Colleen Brummer and Wanda Thompson.
Now the team stands at 12 – 10 participants in Cayman and
two based in Florida, all joining forces to raise funds and awareness for
breast cancer by walking 60 miles over three days. The first day consists of 26
miles, the second 20 miles and the third 14 miles. At night, participants sleep
in tents at a predetermined site. Lisa is co-captain of the team, along with
fellow teammate, Christina, who work together organising the team’s
participation, including its sponsorship, T-shirts and hats.
The walk itself is open to anyone who wants to participate
and is not relegated just to women. Thousands of women and men come together to
participate and there are many different walks, held in different cities over
different weekends all across the States. All walkers must agree to raise a
minimum of US$2,300 for the 3-Day for the Cure in order to walk.
Diana is one walker who joined the Caymanite team early
on. She says the Cayman public has been incredibly generous even during these
tough economic times: “The team’s initial fund raising goal was US$35,000.
There has been such an incredible outpouring of support and generosity that we
have now increased that target to US$50,000. Our efforts currently stand at
US$38,000 with eight weeks to go [at the time of writing].”
Diana says that three of the team members are ranked in
the top 10 fundraisers for the Tampa walk, and the Caymanite team is ranked as
the number four fundraising team, which is pretty impressive for a first ever
team effort from the Cayman Islands.
Sponsors of the team include FSH Design, who created the
team’s logo for free and Subway, who sponsored the production of T-shirts and
hats for the walk.
Diana says she can appreciate why so many people in
Cayman have been so generous, because so many people have been touched by the
disease, either directly or through friends and family.
“The many poignant stories from people who have donated
who have told of how their lives have been affected by breast cancer have been
most touching. Mothers, wives, sisters
and daughters…. It has been humbling and shocking just how many people we know
who have been affected in some way by this disease,” she confirms. “Raising money for research to find a cure
will benefit women all around the world.
The ladies admit that training has been tough at
times. Saturday and Sunday call for long
walks (double digit mileage on both days, Diana confirms) and the days start at
“It is important that we do these “back to back walks” in
preparation of walking such long distances over the three days at the end of
this month,” Diana explains. “We vary our routes each week so we are getting to
see a lot of the Island. We also train during the week, but those walks are
usually around five miles or so. The hardest walks are undoubtedly the Sunday
walks; after a 14 miler on Saturday, you ache through most of the 10 or 11
miles that Sunday calls for. And of course it is hot, too! The training began
at an average of 30 miles a week but increased to around 40 miles a week as the
walk date gets nearer.”
The ladies don’t seem to be too much in awe of the walk
itself, as they feel that their continuous and rigorous training is helping
them to get physically in shape, while mentally preparing them for the task
ahead by forging close bonds with each other.
“We spend many hours in each other’s company while
training (particularly the ladies in Florida who only get to train with each
other) so we have all created strong relationships that I’m sure will last much
longer than just the walk,” Lisa says. “All of the ladies on the team have been
so helpful to me and each other through this journey which has made it so
priceless for me. Everyone has been so encouraging to each other. The tough bit
will be the camping overnight!”
“I think some people are sponsoring me just for the
camping alone!” Diana jokes, who is also not necessarily looking forward to a
night under canvas. Both women agree however that it is a small price to pay
for such an important cause.
All for the cause
Diana says it is her first time being involved in such a
large charity project, as with many of her team members.
“The Komen organisation is amazing,” she says. “The Susan
G. Komen for the Cure partners or funds programmes in 50 countries to end
suffering from breast cancer and has helped train more than 400 breast cancer
researchers and funded more than 1,800 research projects. Over the past 27
years it has invested hundreds of millions of dollars in global breast cancer
research and local community programmes supporting education, screening and
treatment. It’s also an extremely
forward thinking and broad reaching charity, aiming to invest more than US$2
billion over the next decade in breast health care and treatment for the
underserved and in research to discover the causes of breast cancer and,
ultimately, its cure.”
The ladies are active in other ways to raise funds and
awareness, having held a garage sale and a Ladies Luncheon at the Lighthouse
Club earlier this month.
October is officially designated Breast Cancer Awareness
month and the major fundraising event for the cause takes place on 16 October,
the Breast Cancer Gala, which will be held at the Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman.
A personal journey
Each team member recants why they joined the Susan G.
Komen 3-Day for the Cure walk this year.
As mentioned, Lisa B. is walking this walk to celebrate
her 40th birthday and her accomplishments of losing weight over the past year.
She has dedicated this walk to her seven year old daughter, Sabrina, with the
hope that her generation will never have to encounter the pain and suffering
from breast cancer when she grows up.
Amy is walking as a testimony to the strength of all the
women who have suffered through this terrible disease. Their strength of
character is an inspiration to us all. She is walking as a tribute to her mum,
a 20 year survivor, and on behalf of all those who will be diagnosed in the
future. And for the hope that by the time her daughter gets to the age that she
has to start worrying about it, there will be nothing left to worry about. This
disease must end and if she can help raise funds to find a cure, then she is
happy to try and do her part.
Deidre is “paying it forward”. Perhaps, one day, she will
need direct assistance to face and hopefully cure her body from breast cancer.
Her greater hope is that money raised by the team and this organisation will be
instrumental in finding new cures in the near term and making them accessible
to those in need today.
Christina is walking to make a difference in the world.
She wants her children to understand that charity is not only about giving, but
about “doing”. Cancer has touched so many lives, and if this small donation
will make a difference, Tina wants that to be one of her goals 2010.
Mia, the youngest team member at 15 is doing this walk to
make sure that in the future, this horrible cancer can be got rid of entirely,
for the good of generations to come.
Wanda is walking because when she turned 40 she felt she needed to do
something worthwhile with her life. God had blessed her with an amazing husband
and three beautiful and healthy children. It took her two years to figure it
out. She came across the Susan G Komen 3 Day Walk for the Cure and read up and
learned some very alarming statistics. She realised how very lucky and blessed
she has been and decided it was time to give back.
Nisha is walking in the memory of her father who passed
away from stomach cancer and in celebration of three friends who are breast
She walks because she should. She walks because she can.
Lisa U. is walking to celebrate life and raise awareness
that it’s possible to bring an end to breast cancer. She wants to make an
impact, not only on the pavement, but also by participating with a group of
amazing women that are determined to make a difference. Lisa’s motto for the
walk: celebrate life, love, friendship and the generous goodness in all of us
to find a cure.
Diana is motivated by the desire that all best friends,
sisters, wives, mothers and daughters might live a full life free of this disease.
She wants to get old with every one of her friends! She also wants to raise her
own awareness and knowledge of breast cancer and believe, as a team, we can
pass that knowledge on to others in our community and inspire many more people
to play a part in defeating this disease for ever.
Colleen is celebrating her five year anniversary cancer
free! After being diagnosed with breast cancer at the age of 36, she is walking
to let others know that breast cancer does not have to be a death sentence but
a challenge that can make you stronger and more determined then you ever
thought you could be. She is so excited to be walking with other women who have
fought the battle and won and to be inspired by so many people coming together
to help raise money to find a cure for something no woman (or man) should have
to go through. But most importantly, she is walking in memory of her mother who
died of breast cancer 20 years ago – hoping that we can prevent future
generations of daughters from losing something so precious.
Jennifer is walking to celebrate her health, to celebrate
turning 40 this year and to show her children that through hard work and
commitment great things can be achieved.