Rain Didn't Dampen "Strides" Spirit!

October 2, 2011 Updated Oct 21, 2013 at 1:36 PM EDT

By WKBW News

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October 2, 2011 Updated Oct 21, 2013 at 1:36 PM EDT

BUFFALO, NY ( WKBW ) Channel 7's Jaclyn Asztalos and Mike Spong welcomed thousands to the "Making Strides Against Breast Cancer" walk Sunday at Niagara Square in downtown Buffalo.

Gretchen Leffler, the Executive Director of the Buffalo Chapter of the American Cancer Society, told Eyewitness News that hundreds of thousands of dollars are raised at the event for research to fight breast cancer. Leffler added that the incredible spirit of Western New Yorker's, with their generosity and perseverance to come out despite the weather, is what makes the "Strides" event so amazing.

Gretchen was joined by coordinators JoAnn Harig and Paul McGee, with hundreds of volunteers, who organize and execute the event.

The predominant color of the gray and rainy morning in Niagara Square was pink. One of the goals of the "Making Strides" event is to make “More Pink” in the fight against breast cancer.

Moms, dads, children, grandparents, co-workers, breast cancer survivors and their loved ones all joined in the fight against breast cancer by participating in the 5K, non-competitive walk to raise money for the American Cancer Society’s breast cancer research, education, advocacy and patient service programs.

The theme of this year’s event is “More Pink For Your Green” symbolizing the American Cancer Society’s unique portfolio of local services, advocacy efforts, public education programs and national research initiatives funded through the Making Strides event.

Despite the rainy chill, a warmth and spirit of togetherness and strength filled downtown Buffalo.

Walkers were either survivors, going through the journey of battling breast cancer, or walking in support of or in memory of others.

Co-host Bill Lacy, morning radio host from Classic Hits 104.1FM shared a memory of his sister-in-law who recently passed away as a result of breast cancer.

Fitness motivator Robbie Raugh cheered on the crowd with a warm up routine in honor of her sister.

Channel 7's Jaclyn Asztalos and Mike Spong filled in for "AM/Buffalo" host Linda Pellegrino, who could not make the event while she continues her cancer battle. Pellegrino recently underwent a double mastectomy and reconstructive surgery after being diagnosed with breast cancer in December of 2010. Linda is currently in treatment for thyroid cancer.

The American Cancer Society says the 2011 event was one of the best ever, with almost 10,000 people raised $600,000 through the American Cancer Society Making Strides Against Breast Cancer Campaign in Western New York

BUFFALO, NY – Three years of terrible weather, hail during the opening ceremony and ongoing economic woes have proved no match for the resolve of Western New Yorkers in the fight against breast cancer. The 16th Annual American Cancer Society Making Strides Against Breast Cancer event took place in downtown Buffalo this morning and was a record-breaking success in terms of both people and dollars raised for the cause.

Almost 10,000 people braved a cold, rainy and generally miserable morning of Buffalo weather to take a stand against breast cancer and marched from Niagara Square through Downtown Buffalo. In spite of the weather, the campaign this year surpassed last year’s success raising $600,000, the most in the program’s 16 year history in Western New York. Funds raised through Making Strides are committed to the American Cancer Society’s –the official sponsor of more birthdays -breast cancer research, education and outreach programs, advocacy and patient services. Some of these services include:

Reach to Recovery links newly diagnosed breast cancer patients with survivors who offer information, answer questions and provide support while serving as living examples that breast cancer can be beat.

Look Good… Feel Better is best described as a physical and mental makeover. It’s a one-time educational session run by professional cosmetologists where women facing cancer are taught how to manage the appearance-related side effects of cancer treatment. They leave the session looking good and feeling better.

1-800-227-2345 – Trained cancer information specialists available 24 hours a day, seven days a week to answer questions about cancer, link callers with community resources, provide support and provide information on local events.

www.cancer.org is the most reliable, user-friendly Web site containing in-depth information on every major cancer type. Answers are provided to questions about the nature of breast cancer: causes and risk factors; the latest strategies for prevention and early detection; new diagnostic techniques; the latest treatment options and services available in your community.

Road to Recovery – Transportation to lifesaving medical appointments can be a challenge for a woman with breast cancer. An American Cancer Society volunteer will drive her to and from treatment.

Hope Lodges are free, temporary residential centers for cancer patients and their caregivers near state-of-the-art treatment facilities. Today at 22 Hope Lodges nationwide, including one on Summer Street in Buffalo, teams of cancer patients and their families, staff and volunteers form powerful support networks focused on a single goal – recovery.

“This is an important day for the fight against breast cancer in Western New York, and we are so grateful for the community’s support, especially in this troubled economy,” said Gretchen Leffler, regional vice president of the American Cancer Society. “Event participants and volunteers make it possible for the American Cancer Society to offer programs like Reach to Recovery, which provides support for breast cancer patients, and Hope Lodge, which provides free lodging for those receiving treatment far from home, possible.”

For more than a decade, Making Strides has been the American Cancer Society’s premier event dedicated to raising awareness and dollars in support of battling breast cancer.

Since 1993, nearly 7 million walkers have raised more than $400 million to help fight breast cancer through participating in the noncompetitive, 3- to 5-mile events.

In 2010 alone, nearly 800,000 walkers across the country collected more than $60 million to save lives from breast cancer. More than a half million dollars was raised in Western New York alone.

The American Cancer Society’s Making Strides Against Breast Cancer is a rallying cry for awareness, the venue to remember those who’ve fought and continue to fight breast cancer, and an opportunity for us all to make a difference in the lives of people with breast cancer right here in Western New York.

This year’s American Cancer Society Making Strides Against Breast Cancer walk was sponsored by New York State United Teachers, Catholic Health System, GM Powertrain, UWA 774, First Niagara, HSBC, MassMutual Financial Group, the Mother’s Day Canal Walk, Panera Bread, Roswell Park Cancer Institute, WalMart, WKBW-TV and Classic Hits 104.1 WHTT.

For more information or to join Making Strides Against Breast Cancer call your American Cancer Society at 1-800-ACS-2345 or visit www.cancer.org/strideonline.

About the American Cancer Society

The American Cancer Society combines an unyielding passion with nearly a century of experience to save lives and end suffering from cancer. As a global grassroots force of more than three million volunteers, we fight for every birthday threatened by every cancer in every community. We save lives by helping people stay well by preventing cancer or detecting it early; helping people get well by being there for them during and after a cancer diagnosis; by finding cures through investment in groundbreaking discovery; and by fighting back by rallying lawmakers to pass laws to defeat cancer and by rallying communities worldwide to join the fight. As the nation’s largest non-governmental investor in cancer research, contributing more than $3.4 billion, we turn what we know about cancer into what we do. As a result, more than 11 million people in America who have had cancer and countless more who have avoided it will be celebrating birthdays this year. To learn more about us or to get help, call us any time, day or night, at 1-800-227-2345 or visit cancer.org.