CORTLANDT, N.Y. - Community members, New York Presbyterian/Hudson Valley Hospital administration and staff and members of Support Connection gathered over breakfast and coffee at the hospital in Cortlandt Manor to celebrate the launch of the annual fundraiser that precedes the annual Support-A-Walk.

Each year, Yorktown’s Support Connection, a non-profit organization dedicated to providing free emotional, social and educational support services to those affected by breast and ovarian cancer, hosts the walk to bring attention to the needs of people affected, and to raise funds for Support Connection’s free support services.

“We must raise all of our own funds each year,” said Executive Director Katherine Quinn. “Therefore, it is so important for the community to support us.”

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The breakfast, held Monday, Aug. 22, was free and open to everyone. Support Connection volunteers were on hand to answer questions from curious attendees and brochures. Flyers and other materials were available. Several members of the hospital administration, in addition to Quinn, addressed the crowd of 75 that gathered, as did a few more members of Support Connection.

Steve Scalzi, the partner of someone who received support, spoke of the excellent care his girlfriend received at New York Presbyterian/Hudson Valley Hospital, in addition to the way Support Connection added to that care. He specifically mentioned the positive effect Support Connection’s counselors had on himself and his girlfriend.

Marlene Stager, a peer counselor with Support Connection, greeted the audience and spoke about the organization’s confidential counseling. She said people can turn to Support Connection with confidence, as many of the counselors understand what the experience of receiving a cancer diagnosis is like.

“Our mission remains the same: to offer free, confidential breast and ovarian support,” Quinn said. “All of our counselors have had cancer themselves.”

Quinn said several people made a donation at the breakfast to kick off the fundraising efforts. Support Connection hopes to raise $250,000 from the fundraising walk.

“What we’re very proud of is that 90 percent of all the money raised goes directly to those we serve,” Quinn said. “We’re very grateful. We could not be more grateful to the people who believe in us. We’ve been around for 20 years. We want to be around for another 20. With the community’s support we can.”

The Support-A-Walk for breast and ovarian cancer will take place on Sunday, Oct. 2, rain or shine at FDR Park.