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Area residents prepare for 3-day breast cancer walk
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From left: Gina Houlditch of Gainesville, Heather Howington of Flowery Branch, Terri Woodruff of Flowery Branch, Linda Dyer of Gainesville, and Janet Allison of Gainesville take a practice walk Wednesday in Oakwood for the 3-Day for the Cure Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation walk. - photo by SARA GUEVARA

3-Day for the Cure walk

Be a part of the walk by cheering on walkers at spectator sites

Friday

7:30 a.m. Opening ceremony at Lake Lanier Islands, 7000 Holiday Road, Buford

8:45-10:45 a.m. 89 Main St., Buford

12-5 p.m. Suwanee Station, Station Center Boulevard, Suwanee

Saturday

9:15 a.m.-12 p.m. Oreck Vacuums Store and Plaza, 5005 Peachtree Parkway, Norcross

11:30 a.m.-6 p.m. Duluth Monarch School, 3057 Main St., Duluth

Sunday

  • 7:45-9:30 a.m. Lowes, 4950 Peachtree Industrial Blvd.
  • 10:45 a.m.-1:30 p.m. Atlantic Station, 171 17th St., Atlanta
  • 5:30 p.m. Closing ceremony at Turner Field, 755 Hank Aaron Drive S.W., Atlanta

Five women donning pink T-shirts, bracelets, buttons, water bottles and phone covers took a walk down Atlanta Highway and around the Gainesville State College campus on Wednesday night. It was their practice walk.

The Gainesville and Flowery Branch women were preparing for this weekend's 3-Day for the Cure walk in Atlanta, hosted by the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation. Some have been involved in the walk since 2002 and some are walking for the first time, but they all have the same goal in mind - stop breast cancer in its tracks.

"I'm walking for a friend of mine who was diagnosed on Christmas Eve 2009, but most of all, I'm walking for my 17-year-old godchild so she never has to wear pink ribbons to walk for a cure," said Gina Houlditch, who is a team leader for this weekend's event and is walking for a fifth year. "You do a lot of crying and you hear a lot of stories, but a lot of them are becoming more positive with early detection of cancer."

The 60-mile walk starts Friday morning at Lanier Islands and ends Sunday evening at Turner Field.

About 3,000 people raised $2,300 each in donations and are expected to walk this weekend. The five ladies in pink are just a handful of local participants who come from different teams, and they found each other online and started walking together this summer.

"I never used to believe the world is as small as it is until we started walking together," said Houlditch, who organized the group. Several of the women have children or grandchildren in the same schools or activities and planned fundraising events together.

"You can't find somebody who hasn't been touched by breast cancer somehow," said Linda Dyer, who is walking for the first time. "When I started these walks, I was more worried about camping and walking 60 miles, but I'm feeling much better about it now."

Dyer is walking in honor of her mother and sister, who are cancer survivors, and her best friend Judy Piotrowski, who died six years ago from cancer after establishing For Her Glory, a local company that helps to provide wigs to cancer patients.

"There's been a lot of progress, and the treatments are getting much better," said Janet Allison, who became involved with breast cancer walks in 2002 before doctors found her own benign lump in 2007.

"We'll just keep walking until we find the cure."

Heather Howington walked for the first time in 2002 with her sister to honor her mom who died from breast cancer. Now that Howington is close to 40, the age that her mom died, she decided to walk again. Terri Woodruff, who is walking for the first time in honor of her grandmother who had breast cancer, is being sponsored by her company.

"The camping is a blast because all you see are rows and rows of pink tents," Houlditch said. "And walking is great as people cheer you on and cars honk and people wave."

Angie Roberts, another Gainesville resident, is part of a separate seven-person team that raised $18,000 for the walk. The group, named Team "Operation My Racky Freedom," is walking for the first time.

"We got started when one of the gal's husbands got deployed to Iraq, and she went to buy shoes to walk and take her mind off him being gone," Roberts said.

"We decided it was a great charity that we all believe in, and the team name blossomed when we put a pun on both things."

Roberts held a garage sale at her home on Thompson Bridge Road, and other team members worked with community groups and businesses for donations.

"Several members of my family have had breast cancer, and my husband is walking with me because several of his family members have also," she said.

"We've been training, and people will ask us what we're doing. I dyed my hair pink to make myself stick out. It's really great to get the word out and see the community come together."

As Roberts' group plans for their first experience, Houlditch's group decided Wednesday what to tackle next year.

"Let's walk two cities," Houlditch said as they wrapped up the 4-mile practice walk. "Let's do the Washington, D.C. walk. That would really be something."

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