PALMDALE – Lancaster resident Naima Moore was about to fulfill a lifelong goal last year when she received some life-changing news.
“I was just about to graduate with my master’s degree,” she said. “Two weeks before, I was diagnosed with [breast] cancer.”
For Palmdale resident Earline Fontenette, the diagnosis came more than 17 years ago.
“I detected it myself through a self-breast exam,” Fontenette said, adding that a biopsy confirmed her suspicions. Fontenette said the diagnosis has barely slowed her, and credits early detection for her many years of good health.
“Attention needs to be drawn to the cause so that women who are diagnosed know that it’s not a death sentence,” Fontenette said. “We do live through it.”
Fontenette, Moore and more than 100 local breast cancer survivors joined thousands of supporters Saturday morning (10/19) at the Antelope Valley’s Making Strides Against Breast Cancer Walk. The event was hosted by the American Cancer Society in recognition of National Breast Cancer Awareness Month.
“This is the first one in the Antelope Valley,” said event chair Ima Moore. “We’re trying to bring attention to breast cancer and we’re trying to get women to be more aware, plus it’s a celebration for survivors all in one.”
The event kicked off at 8 a.m. at Marie Kerr Park. A brief opening ceremony included an inspirational pep talk from Palmdale Mayor Jim Ledford, remarks by State Assemblyman Steve Fox, and a warm up led by fitness instructors from Ladies First Fitness & Spa. Then a “pink sea” of supporters of all ages fanned out for a noncompetitive 5K walk in an around Marie Kerr Park.
“Everybody was happy and vibrant, and the love was in the air!” Naima Moore said.
Among the walkers was 7-year-old Anaya Culver, Little Miss Black Antelope Valley 2013.
“I’m out here to salute the people that have breast cancer. This is for my grandma,” Culver said, adding that her grandmother, Earline Fontenette, had survived the disease for 17 years and counting.
Another community queen, Junior Miss Black Antelope Valley Ta’lia Chevis, said she lost her grandmother to breast cancer just last year.
“She really influenced me in my life and I really wanted to come here in memory of her,” Chevis said. Asked why the event was important, 12-year-old Chevis said, “To give motivation for people who have cancer to keep going.”
The event was also a fundraiser, with proceeds going to the American Cancer Society to provide free information and services for breast cancer survivors in the Antelope Valley.
“Some of the money helps breast cancer survivors who need wigs, then there are people who need transportation and lodging to go down the hill and get treatment,” Ima Moore said. “We also help women who need mammograms and have no resources… this is a campaign where the money goes back into supporting the local community.”
Saturday afternoon, organizers estimated the walk had already raised well over $50,000. They said checks were still coming in.
Fundraising for Making Strides Against Breast Cancer Antelope Valley ends on Dec. 31, Ima Moore said. To make a post-event contribution, visit makingstrides.acsevents.org, or contact event chair Ima Moore at email@example.com.
For many more pictures from this event, visit our Facebook page.