Avon Walk for Breast Cancer draws thousands on first day in D.C.

Thousands took a long walk to help prevent breast cancer. Photo: ABC7

More than 2,200 people came out today for the start of the annual two-day Avon Walk for Breast Cancer in Washington, DC.

The participants will walk either a marathon (26. 2 miles) or a marathon and a half (39.3 miles) over the weekend.

Everyone walked for someone – a mother, a friend, a cousin or an Aunt.

But for Krista Ziegler this year she walked for herself.

“I walked in 2000 not knowing that eventually I would need this kind of support,” Zieger of Chantilly, Virginia said on the sidelines of the walk today.

She and her mother were both diagnosed with breast cancer in the same year. They’re both now survivors. Zieger credits her healthy recovery due to good health insurance that she has as a public school teacher.

She says walks like this are important to raise funds for those who are not so lucky.

“Setting goals and raising thousands of dollars is all for the women who don’t have the advantages that I had or my mom had,” she said.

The event raised over $5 million. That money will stay mostly in the DC-metropolitan area – and will go right back into local cancer centers, research facilities and community centers, event organizers say.

Among the beneficiaries, Johns Hopkins University’s Avon Breast Center will receive a grant of $1,275,000 and Georgetown University Hospital, Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center will receive a grant of $500,000.

All 39 miles of the race were walked exclusively on the sidewalks throughout the district. Race organizers did not close any roads, not only to relieve the traffic headaches some races cause but also to put their army of pink participants on full display weaving throughout the city.

“No matter how any blisters I have right now, it’s a hell of a lot easier than chemo,” Denise Pinkowitz of Gaithersburg, Virginia said as she passed the mile 12 checkpoint today outside of the Ellington School for the Arts in Northwest.

That sentiment was one that many race participants shared.

“I’m walking for my aunt who was diagnoses in the fall,” GW Senior Lauren Alberstein said, “My aunt came out from NY to be here with me. She couldn’t walk but she’s out here supporting me. It’s been emotional.”

The majority of the participants were women – but the men who walked with them were celebrated.

“It irritates me that there aren’t more men walking because it affects all of us,” Larry Rosenlynn of Boyds Maryland said today, “It’s our wives, it’s our girlfriends, it’s our sisters, it’s our daughters, it’s our mothers.”

The finish line is Sunday at the base of the Washington Monument.

But for some, like Lisa Rosenbalm, who was jut diagnosed eleven weeks ago, a personal finish line will come much later.

“Next year,” Rosenbalm said when asked what she’ll be thinking about while crossing tomorrow’s finish line, “That next year I’ll be walking this with all these people all over again.