By Joann Fan
Stony Brook University students were well-represented at the 17th Annual Walk for Beauty, Walk for Life. The middle-aged and many robust senior citizens, small children and even some dogs turned out in support of breast and prostate cancer research.
Wolfie, cheerleaders and students from a local dance academy sent off the walkers along to 70s disco hit “Hands Up (Give Me Your Heart)” by Ottowan.
Along the Stony Brook Village route, Donald Loughlin, who has been with M&V Limousines for a couple of years, led the process while driving a bright pink limo.
He said that he does not often drive the pink limo but, “For the special event, they asked me to do it, so I was happy to.”
Volunteers, mostly student athletes from the university, gathered along the route in small groups to shout encouragement, pass out water and point walkers in the right direction.
Nathan Fleshman, who was stationed near the beginning of the route, said that it was his fourth year at the walk. He is captain of the swim team and he said that any sports teams that were not traveling had shown up to volunteer.
What began as a small event to raise awareness for breast cancer and screenings in 1994 has evolved into a community-wide effort, and the growth has been evident in the last few years.
Each year, Fleshman said, the attendance has gotten better. “I’m really shocked and happy with the amount of people who turn out.”
Hundreds of people showed up, many of them wearing pink to express support for breast cancer patients–from hats, to sweaters and sweatshirts, and even pink ribbons on dog collars.
Karen Barbante attended the walk for the first time in support of her daughter’s friend, whose mother has been a close friend and is now in her fifth year of remission.
“The girls met when they were back in middle school and now they’re all out working,” she said. “I guess it’s been close to 20 years.”
Barbante said she hoped to walk at least four kilometers. “We’ll see how we do after four. If we do well, we’ll continue onto the six.”
Afterward, in true college-student style, some Stony Brook University students lined up to take pictures in the pink limo, specifically in the tiny Jacuzzi mounted on the back.
The Walk for Beauty, Walk for Life event is held annually by the Stony Brook University Medical Center and the Ward Melville Heritage Organization.