(Published by The White Plains Examiner)
By Barbara Cervoni, Director of Services and Communication, Support Connection, Inc. Photo courtesy of Maria Bianchi
“When life gives you lemons, make lemonade.” We’ve all said it at one time or another. But when Maria Bianchi says it, she really means it. It’s the reason she’s rallied her friends and family to donate to her fundraising campaign for the 21st Annual Support-A-Walk for Breast and Ovarian Cancer. Maria’s already raised more than $6,500 and she’s not done yet.
The Support-A-Walk, presented by Support Connection, Inc., will take place on Sunday, Oct. 4th, at FDR State Park in Yorktown Heights, NY. The event was founded twenty one years ago by local residents to bring attention to the needs of people affected by breast and ovarian cancer. People travel from across the Hudson Valley and beyond to take part in this uplifting community event. Proceeds fund Support Connection’s year-round free support services and programs for people affected by breast and ovarian cancer.
Participants of all ages complete a 3-mile walk, often in honor of loved ones. There’s a Survivor’s Welcome Area where volunteers greet and welcome cancer survivors. Along the Walk path, walkers are encouraged and cheered by local bands, cheerleaders and other community groups. Even those who can’t attend can participate or donate. And, supporters can raise funds like Maria by creating personal online fundraising pages where friends and family can donate.
As an ovarian cancer survivor, Maria feels strongly about the cause. When she was diagnosed, Maria had never even heard of ovarian cancer and was totally unprepared for how it would impact her: “It was November 2007 and life was great, perfect actually. Things couldn’t have been any better, personally or professionally! Then, without any warning, my entire life changed. I had surgery and my life was suddenly filled with doctor visits, blood tests, chemo, hair loss, scars and endless hot flashes.”
It wasn’t easy. Maria remembers times when the sudden thought “Oh my god, I have cancer!” stopped her in her tracks. With the love and support of her husband Steve, their daughters Marisa and Alexa, and other family and friends, Maria got through it. She says “I’m surrounded by some of the best people ever!”
Many of those same family and friends will be at the Support-A-Walk with Maria and have contributed to her fundraising efforts. Maria is grateful to them and happy to be in good health. “I live each and every day to the fullest, I am grateful for every single moment and take nothing for granted! I am here, I am alive and I am a SURVIVOR.”
When asked why she decided to raise funds for the Support-A-Walk, Maria says: “I know for a fact that the money is actually helping someone. Support Connection truly makes a difference in the lives of women and families going through cancer. I don’t think there’s anything better I could do.” She adds: “It’s all about giving back.”