Samantha Barrale walked to a tent in the Diamond Run Mall parking lot on Oct. 21 where she gathered with a sea of pink friends who were laughing, dancing and eating.
The Castleton State College senior and president of the Social Issues Club was meeting her team of about 30 club members for a breast cancer walk to raise awareness and money.
“When I heard about this, I immediately took action to create a team for this,” said Barrale of the Making Strides against Breast Cancer walk, sponsored by the American Cancer Society.
By the time the event started, roughly 60 people had registered for the team, which Barrale named Students for Surviving. Altogether, there were more than 500 participants, 47 teams and 29 survivors participatingin the walk. A total of about $73,000 was raised, more than $1,000 by the Castleton team.
“I am happy with this amount considering that I know everyone is very busy and did not have a lot of time to raise money,” said Barrale.
Club member Jazmin Spear, a sophomore at Castleton, said she knows people who have struggled with breast cancer in the past.
“Awareness for these issues is of great importance, and that the more people involved, the better. People see cancer as a simple thing, but it’s much more complicated than just saying “Oh you have cancer? Go get chemo!” There are thousands of little steps and issues and complications that can occur and by having walks, it increases awareness of not just the details, but the real amount of people who are affected by cancer,” Spear said.
The walk was a good reflection of Castleton’s students and faculty.
“To have this led by a student is great. It says a lot about who we are,” said Luther Brown, one of Castleton’s social work professors.
Junior Meg Morse, who is double majoring in sociology and social work, wasworking at K-Mart Sunday when she noticed an unusual number of people entering the mall’s parking lot. As she took a closer look and seeing all the pink, she realized a walk for breast cancer was taking place.
“The overall message being displayed is that cancer patients are strong and able to overcome a lot with the help of a community,” said Morse.
By just attending the walk, members were able to gain awareness about the issue and spread their knowledge to others, club members said.
“The public and culture look at it as just raising money. It’s not necessarily about the money, but raising awareness,” said junior club member Matt Bloomberg.
The event, Barrale said, opened people’s eyes on how serious of an issue breast cancer can be for women, and even men.
“I had a survivor in front of me that yelled with joy when she was going through the finish line, ‘I finished’ and it almost brought tears to my eyes,” she said.