As Rachel Platten’s “Fight Song” blared from the DJ booth Friday evening, dozens of people on the dance floor waved posters in the air while nearly 600 people surrounding them cheered and cried.
The posters read “This is my fight song” and on the back, each person had written a number, ranging from one to 42, indicating how many years they’ve been cancer-free.
The fundraiser, held at East Wind in Wading River, was organized by the Fight Like a Girl Army, a group created seven years ago by friends Jennifer Hunt and Christine Romano of Wading River, both breast cancer survivors.
“Jen came up to me one day and said ‘We should do a walk,’ ” Ms. Romano recalled. “So we signed up for the LI2Day. We sold T-shirts out of our trunks and raised $11,000 that year. We’re in our seventh year now and we’ve raised over $170,000.”
Founded 13 years ago, the LI2Day Walk has helped 157,000 Long Islanders, awarded $198,500 in scholarships and raised $294,800 for breast cancer research, according to its website.
“The main reason why we do [the LI2Day Walk] is it’s nonprofit and everything that is raised here, stays here,” Ms. Romano said. “Nobody gets paid. A lot of other places you’re paying somebody’s salary.”
More than 30 people are scheduled to join the Fight Like a Girl team to participate a in 13.1-mile walk scheduled for Saturday and Sunday, June 10 and 11, at Smith Point Beach in Shirley.
Alexa Boucher, the team’s newest member and a freshman at Shoreham-Wading River High School, was diagnosed with rhabdomyosarcoma after doctors found a tumor in her eye socket this winter, her mother, Kim, said.
After a day visiting doctors in New York City, Alexa told her mom Tuesday that “she feels proud and she wants to show others that she’s strong and she can walk the 13 miles.”
An important milestone in itself, participating in the walk will be extra-special for the Bouchers because June 6 will be Alexa’s last day of chemotherapy.
“Important week for her, a big week for her,” Ms. Boucher said. “We’re even more proud because it’s her last day of her chemotherapy treatment. She’s proud she battled [cancer] and she’s finishing it.”
Ms. Boucher, a close friend of Ms. Romano, joined the Fight Like a Girl Army several years ago and has participated in multiple walks.
But this year will have a little more meaning, she said, as it’s the first time her daughter will walk alongside her.
“It’s a little bit emotional because of the timing,” Ms. Boucher said. “I feel like it’s a celebration. I’m proud to walk with my daughter after she finishes her last treatment … and to raise this money to find a cure for cancer.”
Photo: Fight Like a Girl Army members (from left) Karen Lospinuso and Christine Romano at Friday’s fundraiser. The team has raised over $170,000 for Long Island residents battling cancer since it was founded seven years ago. (Credit: Nicole Smith)
Want to donate?
Those wishing to donate to the LI2Day Walk can visit li2daywalk.org. A menu on the website allows you to donate specifically to Fight Like a Girl or Alexa Boucher.