Avon Walk Alumni Are Even More Powerful

Once you’ve experienced the Avon Walk, it’s part of your life forever. A special memory. A reminder that hope and commitment truly can change the world. This is why so many Avon Walkers and Volunteers come back year after year. The energy is contagious. The sense of optimism and joy is totally invigorating. And the opportunity to change more lives? Simply irresistible.

Alumni by the numbers

From 2003-2011, 34,601 Avon Walkers have participated two or more times. 4,818 have participated 5 or more times, and 474 have participated 10 or more times! With a little experience, fundraising becomes surprisingly easy. Repeat Avon Walk participants raise an average of $2,700 each — compared with new participants, who raise an average of $2,400 per person. In becoming an Avon Walk alumni, you’ll gain the power (and fundraising dollars) to make even make an even bigger difference in the fight to end breast cancer.

Avon Walker Stories

Amy Donovan, Walking to Make a Difference

Years participated: 1
Total Funds Raised: $2,939.40

I was saddened by all that the East Coast had been through recently — Hurricane Sandy, the Newtown tragedy, and the Boston Marathon — and in the wake of so much negativity, I was looking to do something positive and find a way to add some good to the world. Since breast cancer has touched my family quite closely, with two aunts and two cousins surviving the disease, participating in the Avon Walk Boston seemed like a good fit.

I was a little intimidated about the fundraising aspect, as I’d never done any fundraising and didn’t feel comfortable asking for money; however, my first e-mail to friends and family garnered quite a few donations. Facebook and word of mouth brought in even more donations. Before I knew it, I had surpassed my goal!

My favorite aspect of the Walk was the camaraderie of walkers built upon this wonderful shared experience. I enjoyed hearing stories, tearing up at some points and laughing hysterically at others — all while being physically exhausted but emotionally soaring. I can’t wait to do it again next year!

Renee Blissett, Walking for Family

Years participated: 1
Total Funds Raised: $2,268

The Avon Walk for Breast Cancer has always been a personal goal of mine, and 2013 was finally the year that I was able to make that dream a reality! I chose to walk, not only for the physical challenge, but as a way to honor my mother, Mary Ann Bradley, who passed away at the age of 47 from breast cancer. I was only 9 years old at the time, and she will forever be a heroine in my heart.

Though I tried to do as much research as I could before the walk, reading previous blogs and feedback, nothing prepares you for the actual weekend. The love, support, and motivation you receive from everyone — walkers, staff, leaders, and the community — is so amazing! Of particular note are those who are survivors or actually undergoing treatment and still choosing to walk — they are incredibly inspiring! I made some amazing friends while walking and have decided to walk again in 2014.

If you are considering participating but are nervous about the distance or the fundraising, please don't be! Not only will people be thrilled to give to your mission, they can rest assured that their donation is going to a foundation with integrity. There are so many fundraising ideas available to you through the Avon staff and fellow walkers — everyone is given as much help as possible to reach and exceed their goal. The same awesome network applies to training: There are countless team training walks to participate in and, if that does not work for you, Avon also provides a thorough training plan to get us prepped to walk. Throw those excuses aside and get involved!

Thank you so much to the Avon Foundation for all that you do all year long to make these walks such an extraordinary experience. It is indeed life-changing, and I look forward to next year! I hope to see YOU there!

Ellen Shibles, Survivor

Years participated: 1
Total Funds Raised: $6,984.50

Always one to commemorate important dates and accomplishments, I carefully considered how to mark my 30 years of survival from breast cancer. I decided to participate in the Avon Walk Boston to celebrate this exciting milestone! I was especially drawn to Avon's Walk because I was treated at Massachusetts General Hospital (an Avon Walk beneficiary) 30 years ago and still travel down from Maine to attend follow-up appointments. I am most grateful for the hope that Mass General gave me when I was diagnosed.

My daughters Jennifer and Alice walked with me in Boston on our team, "Maine Miles for Mom," and I was honored to be chosen to speak at the ceremony on the first night. Together, we raised more than $13,000! It was our first time participating, and we had the time of our lives.

We planned to walk 13.1 miles on Saturday (half of the route) and 13.1 on Sunday, but we surprised ourselves by walking all 39.3 miles! I found it especially thrilling to walk with almost 2,000 women and men all supporting the same cause, and I greatly appreciated all of the people who came up to me on the walk, gave me a hug, congratulated me, and shared their stories.

All three of us agree that it was an emotional and empowering event. We are happy to have played a part in efforts to combat this insidious disease as well as help current and future victims survive.

Ivona Hertz, Survivor

Years participated: 2
Total Funds Raised: $9,464

Before taking my first steps at the Avon Walk New York in 2012, most of my friends and family did not know I was a breast cancer survivor. In 2009, when I was 42 years old, I was diagnosed with breast cancer. I was in shock. Could this heartbreaking disease really affect someone so young? I was embarrassed. I didn’t want anyone to feel sorry for me, so for three years I kept it a secret, only telling those closest to me.

When I signed up for the Avon Walk, I was still hiding my secret. While fundraising, I told donors I was walking in memory of my grandmother, a survivor of both breast cancer and Auschwitz. It wasn’t until I was at the Walk, surrounded by thousands of empowering women and men of all ages wearing “survivor” caps, laughing and smiling, that I finally was able to find the strength within to share my story of survival.

Following the Walk, I came out of hiding and signed up to participate in three 2013 Avon Walks: Houston, Santa Barbara, and New York. I decided to use my fundraising efforts as a way to spread awareness, especially to young women.

When I need inspiration, I think of my grandmother, which gives me strength to stand up to anything. I will forever be indebted to the Avon Foundation for Women and the Avon Walk for Breast Cancer, as they have both changed my life for the better and I am now proud to say it out loud: "I am a breast cancer survivor."

Anton, Youth Crew

Years participated: 3
Total Funds Raised: $25,000

Although I am only 12, I’ve been impacted by breast cancer several times in my life. The impact it has had on me is the No. 1 reason why, for the past three years, I’ve lent my time to volunteer on the Avon Walk for Breast Cancer Youth Crew. In 2011, I had the honor of speaking at the Opening Ceremony in San Francisco!

When my mom was pregnant with me in 2000, she was diagnosed with breast cancer. She had a mastectomy and then had to do it all over again in 2010 when she received a second diagnosis. My grandmother and great aunt have also been affected by the disease. While breast cancer may run in my family, so does fighting it and beating it, because they are all survivors!

During each walk, the Youth Crew does many things like set up the Wellness Village, keep Walkers hydrated and most importantly, cheer them on during their long journey! I know how much Walkers appreciate our efforts. When I’m out along the walk route and I see a Walker’s face light up as I cheer him or her on, or hand them a cup of water, it confirms why I do what I do. It gives me joy and brings a smile to my face to celebrate those who walk and help others to survive.

My good friend and I have decided that we will serve as members of the youth crew in Boston and San Francisco, switching between the two Walks, in hopes of raising funds for both cities.

I hold this cause very close to my heart. I’ve been able to raise over $25,000 in three short years. I hope to raise a lot more for the cause to help one day find a cure for this horrible disease.