Teachers walk 60 miles to support search for a cure to breast cancer

October 7, 2009 — by Sarah Hull and Ashley Tang

Mothers. Daughters. Sisters. Friends. Hundreds of thousands of women are diagnosed with breast cancer each year, and over 40,000 women do not survive, according to the American Cancer Society.

Science teacher Jenny Garcia and math teachers Kelly Frangieh, Kristen Hamilton, Seema Patel and Laressa Ridge walked 60 miles over the course of three days—Oct. 2, 3 and 4—to support the search for a cure for breast cancer. They walked all around San Francisco, including over the Golden Gate Bridge.

The walk was hosted by the Susan G. Komen for the Cure organization, which has already raised millions of dollars to fund the education and research of causes, treatments, and possible cures for breast cancer.

Each member of the SHS team was required to raise a minimum of $2,300 in order to participate in the walk. Through donations from family, friends, parents and students, the five teachers were able to gather over $15,000, surpassing their goal of $13,800 and earning enough money to partake in the three-day walk.

“We couldn’t have done it without the support of the parents and kids at school who donated money to support us,” said Patel.

In recognition of their teaching positions and the help they received from SHS affiliates, the group was appropriately dubbed the “Pink Falcons.”

“We wanted to represent the school and all the good it could do,” said Patel.

Many of the team members personally know breast cancer survivors. Garcia’s sister was diagnosed with the cancer earlier this year and guidance counselor Christy Cali is also a survivor.

“I do know people who had breast cancer who got treated and made it through,” said Ridge. “Luckily, I haven’t lost anyone to cancer yet.”

To prepare for the exhausting trek, the five walked on trails throughout the Bay Area, which included Saratoga, Los Gatos, Santa Cruz, Campbell and Half Moon Bay. They trained on weekends, waking up at 6 in the morning and hiking four-five hours each training day.

Even with all the training, the teachers were still anxious about the long distance.

“I don’t think anything can prepare you to walk 60 miles,” said Patel.

Along with the strenuous hiking, the teachers had to deal with cold temperatures and high winds while camping at Crissy Field. Some of the larger tents had to be taken down in the fear that they would blow over during the night.

“[The walk] was definitely hard. We spent a lot of time on our feet, got sore muscles and lots of blisters,” said Ridge.

The 60-mile walk was worth it. The teachers got to meet countless other people, many currently dealing with breast cancer or who were survivors. There were approximately 1,500 participants, all at least 16 years old, who flew or drove into San Francisco from all over the country.

“I loved it, I had a great time,” said Ridge. “Overall, it was a phenomenal experience.”

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