If you were out last weekend, you probably saw them -- more than 1,100 people in a sea of hot pink walking, running, jogging through the streets of Charlotte to raise money for the accessible treatment and cure of breast cancer.
And boy, did they ever raise money: A stunning $2.3 million during the two-day event.
The Charlotte race was the last of nine races throughout the country for the Avon Walk for Breast Cancer series.
Each participant spent months raising $1,800 for the honor of walking or running a marathon or 1 1/2 marathon over two days. Corporate and individual donations drove the total to $2.3 million. The money goes to organizations supporting five areas of the breast cancer movement: Awareness and education; screening and diagnosis; access to treatment; support services and scientific research -- all with a focus on the medically underserved.
The Charlotte event drew people from four countries, 39 states and Washington, D.C. There were 114 breast cancer survivors and 138 men.
Lisa Middleton, a 3 1/2-year survivor, came from Houston, Tex.
At the closing ceremony at Frazier Park uptown, she told the participants: "We walked this weekend for those who were too sick to walk for themselves, for those who will one day be diagnosed and for those we lost ... Some things in the world are universal -- like love, the power of healing and the will to survive."
Mark Hurlbert, director of the Avon Breast Cancer Crusade, also presented grants totaling $750,000 for research at four Carolinas universities. They include:
UNC Chapel Hill: Awarded $300,000 for a research project that will help doctors understand who is at the highest risk for breast cancer recurrence.
Clemson University: Awarded $195,000 for research that seeks to develop new ways to improve reconstructive surgery following a lumpectomy. It involves a novel application of drugs to reduce tumor recurrence or metastases.
Duke University: Awarded $130,000 to support outreach to underserved and low-income women in Raleigh, Greensboro and Charlotte and to provide patient navigation services to women diagnosed with breast cancer.
Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston: Awarded $125,000 to support a patient navigation program that improves access to screening, diagnostics and treatment for underserved people in the Columbia area.
Beyond Charlotte, there were Avon walks/runs in Houston, Washington, D.C., Boston, Chicago, the Rocky Mountains, San Francisco, Los Angeles and New York.
The nine races drew 20,000 participants and raised $52 million. In the scheme of things our total was a small chunk -- but not bad for little ole Charlotte.