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Local Mothers Make Difference in Pursuit of a Cure for Breast Cancer

The three day Project Cure walk will take place Oct. 26-28.

I’ll confess, when it comes to breast cancer, my journalistic objectivity flies right out the window.

I’ve lost four dear friends to this horrendous disease, and watched as others suffered the ill effects of radiation, chemotherapy and surgery.

So I’m always more than willing to share the stories of the brave women who battle breast cancer as well as the friends and families who work tirelessly to raise funds for research.

One of those stories revolves around a group of mothers whose children attended St. Stephen Catholic School in Riverview. 

Six years ago, after two mother in one class died of breast cancer, Lisa Huetteman, Amy Meany, Mary Owens, Ivette Wagner and Jean Weber (OK, I’ll admit I was involved as well) decided to do more than simply offer prayers and comfort to the victims of breast cancer.

We wanted to wipe out this awful disease. We just knew that we needed to take action, to ease our sense of helplessness and grief, to give meaning to our friends’ deaths and to show their children they did not die in vain.

We founded Project Cure, a 60-mile three-day walk around Natures Way in Bloomingdale East to raise money for breast cancer research.

This year the proceeds from the walk will go to the Hinks and Elaine Shimberg Breast Center at the St. Joseph's Women's Hospital.

The mission of the Hinks and Elaine Shimberg Breast Center at the St. Joseph's Women's Hospital is to advance treatment options for breast cancer through basic scientific research and clinical trials and to address the needs of the breast cancer patient.

With St. Stephen Catholic Church’s pastor, the Rev. William Swengros, leading the charge (Father Bill has taken part in every Project Cure Walk), parishioners at the Valrico church united behind the effort, obtaining sponsorships for walking, hosting bake sales and yard sales, selling pink breast cancer baseball caps, even standing on street corners encouraging passersby to deposit their spare change in buckets.

Even the students at St. Stephen got involved, selling cupcakes, collecting pennies and participating in a kids’ walk.

Although it lacks the national notoriety of the Susan G. Komen 3-Day and the Making Strides Breast Cancer Walk, the modest Project Cure effort has raised more than $100,000 for breast cancer research.

This year’s walk, open to anyone in the community with the desire to stamp out breast cancer, will take place Friday through Sunday, Oct. 26-28, beginning at Bloomingdale East Park on Natures Way.

In addition to the 60-mile, three-day walk, Project Cure is hosting two four-mile Family Fun Walks on Saturday, Oct. 27 and Sunday, Oct. 28 at 9 a.m.

To walk, to volunteer or to donate to the cause, visit the Project Cure website or email project_cure@ststephencatholic.org.

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