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Riverhead to go pink next month in support of breast cancer survivors


Nearly 250,000 women will be diagnosed with an invasive form of breast cancer this year alone. And according to the American Cancer Society, one in about 36 women with the disease will die from it. 

With these statistics in mind, Suffolk County Community College partnered with American Cancer Society to host a Making Strides Against Breast Cancer Walk at the Riverside campus next month.

For two weeks prior to the walk, Main Street will “go pink” to support breast cancer survivors while encouraging people to donate to and attend the non-competitive walk on Oct. 23.

“This event, [Painting Riverhead Pink], allows Riverhead to become a leader in the issue of breast cancer, raising awareness and funds that will inevitably save lives,” said Katie Goepfrich, senior community manager of the Making Strides Against Breast Cancer programs.

Business owners can get involved by donating part of the proceeds from signature pink menu items or pink ribbon campaigns, by decorating their businesses with pink items or by creating a team for the walk.

Community members mentioned at a press conference Friday they are interested in painting a pink strip between the traffic lines on Main Street and recognizing breast cancer survivors at the kickoff of the “go pink” campaign, which begins on Oct. 9 — the same day as the 41st annual Country Fair.

Painting Riverhead Pink ends the day of the walk.

“Each year the event grows, engaging nearly 4,000 community members in the fight against breast cancer,” Ms. Goepfrich said, adding that this is the sixth year they’ve hosted a Making Strides Against Breast Cancer walk on the East End. “And those are community members that provide life-saving research, promote education and risk reduction, as well as providing comprehensive patient support to those who need it most.”

The goal is to create excitement around the Making Strides walk, as well as showcase that “the Riverhead businesses are leaders in the community,” Ms. Goepfrich said.

In addition to hosting the event, SCCC has created a new endowed scholarship for students who are either breast cancer survivors or have taken care of someone diagnosed with the disease, said Sylvia Diaz, executive director of the College Foundation at SCCC.

Prior to working at the college, Ms. Diaz spent 13 years working for the American Cancer Society.

“Now I think to myself that perhaps what I do with the foundation through scholarship support is perhaps going to fund the support of a student who might ultimately find a cure,” she said.

When the American Cancer Society was founded in 1913, a cancer diagnosis almost certainly meant death. Now, approximately 35 percent of those diagnosed die from the disease.

Since 1989, death caused by breast cancer has decreased by 36 percent, Ms. Goepfrich said.

Registration for the walk begins at 7:30 a.m. followed by opening ceremonies and a ribbon cutting around 8:15. Attendees are encouraged to visit Main Street after they participate.

Photo caption: Sylvia Diaz serves as the executive director of the Suffolk Community College Foundation. (Credit: Nicole Smith)

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