POINT PLEASANT BEACH, NJ — Thousands of survivors, families, corporate teams, student organizations, union members and caring individuals met in Point Pleasant Beach on October 20 for the 25th annual Making Strides Against Breast Cancer walk. The energy was high, and the mood was as vibrant as the pink swath of color that spread through the crowd.

The walk took more than 20,000 participants around this seashore town and then up on the boardwalk for a 3.1- mile jaunt. Making Strides Against Breast Cancer of Point Pleasant Beach hosted the event, raising money for cancer research, treatment, and after-care by the American Cancer Society. Local leaders of the event who worked for months organizing the day's events were Amanda Barrett, Keri Drako, Stacey Neglio, Jennifer Lefthand and many other people at the American Cancer Society.

Said East Brunswick volunteer and fundraiser Suzanne Rudick Oliver, "Fighting breast cancer takes a team effort, and we are so grateful to all of you for uniting with us in the fight. On behalf of our dozens of staff and volunteers, we thank each and every single one of you because what unites us, ignites us."

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Prior to the event, teams had registered and solicited donations from corporations, friends and family.

The event began with an opening ceremony, some fun and joyful noise by AJH Entertainment, a multi-opt company whose founder and owner, Adam Hirschhorn, along with his team, volunteered their time, staff and resources to this Making Strides event. (They were also aided by energetic dancing from high school cheerleaders.) 

Then the walk began as a crowd filled the streets of Point Pleasant Beach. Some walkers split off and took a path along the beach, as others milled along the decorated boardwalk, which was hosting a Halloween event later in the day.  At the end, cheerleaders and some corporate sponsors "cheered in" the walkers as they completed their trek. 

It was a happy, positive day tinged with some sadness of the memory of those who have not survived this disease. Participants were able to write the names of their loved ones on a Wall of Memory at the end of the event.

According to the American Cancer Society website, "Breast cancer is the most common cancer among women, and the second leading cause of cancer deaths in U.S. women9 (after skin cancer). An estimated 246,660 American women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in 2016, and 40,450 women will die as a result. Many of these deaths could be avoided if breast cancer screening rates increased among women at risk, according to the experts.

Screening mammography is currently considered the most-effective way of reducing breast cancer mortality and increasing the odds of survival. For more information on prevention, diagnosis and treatment, click here.