If you weren’t already aware, October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month. On Saturday, October 7, the HOPE 4 L.Y.F.E. 3K Walk Fundraiser took place at the Gibson-Bethel Community Center in South Miami.
Volunteers and event organizers were up bright and early at 5:30 AM to assist in setting up and getting the walk underway for the 7:30 AM start time. With the help of the South Miami Police Explorers, the walk was precisely measured to 3K, which is approximately 2 and a half laps around the community center grounds, from 58th place to Red Road.
Before the participants lined up at the finish line, local personal trainer Roy Jeffery of Jeff FITT took to the stage on the field and lead a group warmup and stretch for the participants.
Numerous organizations helped sponsor the event and also had information booth tents setup on the field. Some of the sponsors included was the City of South Miami, South Miami Police Department, Cross River Management; (Shops at Sunset, Cocowalk), South Miami Hospital, FIU, First National Bank of South Miami, Chicks N’ Wings, SMCRA, Higher Praise Church, Concerned Clergy, Citizens Coalition, and other local organizations as well.
Reggie Laroche, Director of Community Development for South Miami Hospital was on hand passing out water bottles at the finish line and was helping out at the South Miami Hospital tent. According to Laroche, “This was a great event to increase breast cancer awareness and education.”
FIU’s Health Clinic was present at the event to promote its free mammograms and handing out information pamphlets, water bottles and snacks.
Various other local members of the community were in attendance for the event, including Michelle Hawkins, Chairperson for the South Miami Black Cultural Affairs Foundation. “One thing about breast cancer is that it doesn’t discriminate. Anybody over the age of 40 should be tested on a regular basis,” said Hawkins when asked why she was attending.
Many participants were eager to be a part of the walk. I asked Laurie Kahn, her thoughts about the event. She responded with an upbeat, “I’ll get up every year at 4 in the morning to make this happen. A good friend of mine was just diagnosed and doesn’t have insurance. Events like this help raise awareness and prevent late stage cancer development because it can be found before.” Laurie is a planning board member of Branches South Miami, a non-profit that provides life-changing opportunities to working poor families to help them and their children break the cycle of generational poverty.
The founder the HOPE 4 L.Y.F.E. foundation and the 3K Walk is Palmetto Bay resident Angela Roberts. After asking [Angela] why she started the event, Angela responded, “My father passed away from after being diagnosed with stage 4 stomach cancer. He was in hospice for an entire year. The fact that I couldn’t do anything to save his life made me feel powerless. From that moment, I vowed to do my part to help save others lives.”
“If it weren’t for her, none of this would be possible,” according to James McCants, the CRA Community Outreach Coordinator, who was a subtle piece in ensuring the event went smoothly.
All the funds raised from the event were donated to FIU to help women and men receive free mammograms. The event was a great success in creating awareness and education for breast cancer, and for victims and survivors that have been affected. The community of South Miami came together, raised money, and had a good time for a cause greater than themselves, in support of finding a cure for a deadly disease that affects millions across the globe.