Moms, Students Walk for a Cure in Athens, Ohio

Guest Post by Lexi Sweet

Moms Weekend, a special time where mothers of Ohio University students descend on the Athens, Ohio, campus, is typically one of the biggest events of the year. For the past 11 years, the biggest event of that weekend has been the “Moms Walk for the Cure.” Each year Ohio University Programming Council (UPC) puts on the event as a way to bring moms together with their daughters and sons to help fight a disease that has touched so many lives.

Jill Zastko speaking to the Moms Walk attendees.

The event begins with a speaker who has gone or is going through a struggle with breast cancer. This year’s speaker was 39-year-old Jill Zastko, who is in the process of her own fight with breast cancer. She reminded all of the participants to know their risk factors, take care of their body and mind, and never to neglect mammograms or self-breast exams. Jill admits that she was lucky as she had not been doing regular exams and her boyfriend happened to find the lump one night.

“You are not invincible, but there are things we can do to keep ourselves well,” she said. “Please don’t forget to check yourself and listen to your body, then keep asking questions until you find the right answer.”

This year’s event was important for another reason, as it was held in memory of the speaker for the 7th Annual Moms Walk, Monica Berger, who had just recently lost her own battle against breast cancer. This helps put things in perspective, as it reminds us of the importance of the money we raise through the Moms Walk.

The event also included performances by various student groups, as well as a silent auction and raffle to help raise additional money. It then concluded with a scenic walk around campus, in which only a sea of pink can be seen for miles.

Photos from past Mom Walks.

This event is something that Moms look forward to each year. As my own mom told me, she likes that it not only brings us closer together, but having known many people who have been touched by breast cancer, seeing all the support on that day sends chills down her spine.

“I really look forward to the atmosphere of the mom-student relationship; it is such a cool thing to see everyone so excited about an event like this because breast cancer has touched so many lives,” said Ashley Laber, one of the University Events Programmers charged with planning the event.

For her planning partner, Mackenzie Fenchak, the meaning is something deeper, beyond just being involved in UPC. “I have a personal tie to raising money for breast cancer because my mom has breast cancer,” she explains. “It was really cool because I got to see all of these people I didn’t know come and support me, but I also had some close friends come down to support both my mom and me, for the fact that I planned the event.”

This year, as opposed to donating money just from the Moms Walk, UPC did fundraising throughout the year in an effort to raise more money. Beginning fall quarter, the group passed out pink ribbons for donations and during the Parent’s Weekend breakfast there were certain silent auction baskets whose funds were dedicated to the breast cancer fund. There were other small things such as bake sales, as well as larger events such as the Dodgeball for The Cure Tournament which was put on at no cost to UPC and all funds were put towards the Moms Walk mass fund. Additionally, for three weeks prior to the Walk, UPC members stood on Court Street twice a week shaking pink buckets and collecting change for donation; this averaged $100 a night and ended up being one of the biggest fundraisers for the group.

The fundraising goal for this year was $11,000, which is approximately the same amount as last year. Amazingly, thanks to the additional fundraisers and adding a website for online donations, the group exceeded this amount by over $2,000. Thanks to the more than 1,000 participants in the Moms Walk, (also the largest group ever,) the Ohio UPC will make a donation of $13,593.61 to Susan G. Komen for the Cure.