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Making strides toward a cure

The pink ribbon that represents the fight against breast cancer was expanded to city-size this past weekend - it wound down from Del Mar and along the La Jolla coastline, continued through Pacific Beach and all the way to downtown San Diego.

Okay, so the line of pink wasn’t an actual ribbon, but a nearly unbroken stream of pink-clad participants in the San Diego edition of the 2007 Breast Cancer 3-Day walk, benefitting Susan G. Komen for the Cure.

More than 4,600 people participated in the San Diego 3-Day, the last in a series of 12 walks held throughout the year across the country. Each walker earned their way into the event by raising at least $2,200 for Komen for the Cure, the world’s largest grassroots network of breast cancer survivors and activists. All told, the San Diego walkers raised more than $12 million to help save lives and energize science to find the cure to breast cancer.

The three-day, 60-mile walk is a famously festive event, and it lived up to that reputation as it made its way through La Jolla on Nov. 9. The walkers were just over halfway through their first day when they came over the big hill at Torrey Pines State Park, then down into La Jolla Shores. They made their way along Coast Boulevard and then down through Bird Rock before continuing into Pacific Beach.

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Supporters and cheering sections lined the course, with many people shouting “Thank you for walking!” to nearly every one of the hundreds of walkers that came past. Pink was the color of the day, as almost every walker and most supporters donned the color that has become synonymous with the fight against breast cancer.

A woman at a “cheering station” along Coast Boulevard just south of Cuvier Street held a sign reading, “You are walking for my sister, Alison, a 3-year survivor!” Nearby, two women danced with pink inflatable guitars while rock music blared from their open convertible.

“This is just so much fun,” said Alisha Bristol of San Diego, who had come to support the walkers even though she didn’t personally know any participants. “It’s so great that people can rally around a really good cause and then have so much fun in the process.”

Several supporters passed out snacks and treats to passing walkers, causing one walker to worry aloud that she would actually gain weight over the course of the long march. Women comprised the majority of the walkers, though men and women from a wide age range participated.

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Komen for the Cure was founded in 1982 by Nancy Brinker, who had promised her dying sister, Susan G. Komen, that she would do everything in her power to end breast cancer. To date, the Komen for the Cure organization has invested more than $1 billion, becoming the largest source of nonprofit funds dedicated to the fight against breast cancer in the world.

In addition to the more than 4,600 walking fund-raisers, more than 500 volunteers helped make the San Diego 3-Day run smoothly. Organizers said the San Diego event was the largest of the 12 Breast Cancer 3-Days held this year, including walks in Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Cleveland, Dallas-Fort Worth, Detroit, Minneapolis-St. Paul, Philadelphia, Phoenix and Tampa-St. Petersburg.

For more information, or to learn how to participate in next year’s 3-Day walk as either a walker or volunteer, visit www.komen.org or call 1-800-GO-KOMEN.