By Kim Vincent
Pink and white bows lined the fence as team members walked laps. Men, women, and children of all ages participated in raising breast cancer awareness.
Recent studies show about 1 in 8 U.S. women will develop breast cancer throughout her lifetime and 85 percent of breast cancer diagnosis are in women who have no family history of breast cancer.
Hosted by Naval Air Facility El Centro, active duty service members, dependents, and authorized base personnel joined together to participate in this year’s Annual Breast Cancer Awareness 12 Hour Relay at the base fitness track. A total of five teams with ten members each completed 976 laps, equivalent to 244 miles.
A minimum of one member per team had to remain walking on the track at all times. Anna Doty, Event Coordinator, began her day at 3 a.m. setting up tables, tarps, and various events.
When asked what motivates her to coordinate the event, Anna said, “Sharing awareness of breast cancer. The people coming out and doing the walk together.” Her 32-year old uncle lost his battle to three forms of cancer associated with asbestos exposure.
“All personnel on base are encouraged to participate. It’s a nice program to support and contribute to good decisionship.
There is no shortage of people on base to volunteer for a good cause,” said Commanding Officer Captain Brent Alfonzo. He continued “Anumber of close friends have been affected.”
Sage Palmer, a Strike Team member, was walking in honor of all those who suffer from breast cancer, noting that her friend’s mother in Pennsylvania passed away just last week from breast cancer. Sage said, “As a female, we need to be aware of breast cancer. We are never ready for it. We all know somebody who suffers from breast cancer, and we need to be aware.”
Public Affairs Officer Kris Haugh’s mother is a breast cancer survivor. As he walked around the track Safety Officer James Whalen’s cousin was having cancer surgery. Whalen two sisters and one brother who are cancer survivors.
Although the afternoon slowed down with limited participants on the track due to the day warming up, many were expected to bring their families back in the late afternoon to complete the final lap together, enjoy free hot dogs and drinks and other events.
Those events surrounding the track included a jousting competition, sumo wrestling, dunk tank, inflatable football, tricycle race, three-legged race, giant slip n’ slide, and many others. There was also a dog park area for those who took their 4-legged friends.
Closing ceremony festivities included performances by the Central Union High School Drum Line, and Tall Flags, and Southwest High School’s SAVAPA dance team. Executive Officer Commander Schlismann said ” It was an enjoyable, nice day.”
People come out to support the cause. We encourage people to participate, as we all know cancer affects many.” Cancer is non-discriminatory and almost every person knows someone who has passed away, survived, or is fighting cancer.
The winning team, HQ, finished with a team total of 195 laps, though all participants were winners.