A group of Irish visitors have raised $50,000 for breast cancer research in Ireland through a charity walk in New York City.
A team of 30 people traveled from Ireland, six of whom were breast cancer survivors, to take part in the charity walk over two days in Central Park last week, to raise money for the National Breast Cancer Research Institute (NBCRI).
Galway woman Orlagh Winters, who participated in the fundraiser, told the Irish Voice that the response from locals in New York was very encouraging when they undertook the walk in Central Park.
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“We want to show people that you can survive breast cancer, you can get over it and you can compete,” Winters told the Irish Voice.
“The amount of Americans who came over to us was incredible. People were asking us how they could support us.”
According to the NBCRI, almost 2,000 new cases of breast cancer are diagnosed in Ireland each year.
“Ultimately we are doing this is to make sure people go and get checked and to help fund the research team,” she added.
The group landed for the New York Walking Challenge on November 30, and each participant had to raise a minimum of $2,700 to travel to New York. Over a two day period they walked almost 20 miles in Central Park.
“We are exhausted,” admitted Winters. “We started and ended at Columbus Circle.”
Winters reflected on her own personal battle with cancer which inspired her to begin fundraising for cancer research.
Smiling at the memory of her wedding day, the 38-year-old proudly showed off a picture of the happy occasion.
“We were planning on having a family straight away,” she admitted.
“By the time my first wedding anniversary came along I was very sick,” she reflects. “I had heard about a girl in West Cork who had died from breast cancer at 30, so I went and got myself checked.
“If it had been another six months I would not be here. I had five months of chemotherapy and then I had 12 weeks of radiotherapy. It was very tough.”
Now in remission, it is hard to believe that Winters has been through so much in the past two years.
After organizing several successful charity events in Ireland, Winters decided to take part in the New York charity walk.
“We chose New York because there are so many Irish here,” Winters said.
“We are trying to raise awareness that people need to realize that you don’t have to have a lump. If you have got anything unusual with your breast go get it checked before it’s too late.”
Founded in 1991, the NBCRI is a voluntary charity, based at the Clinical Science Institute NUI Galway. A leader in the field of breast cancer research, the institute combines ethical research into the biology of breast cancer while all the time raising awareness of this disease. For more information contact Joe Duffy, NBCRI fundraising coordinator at [email protected] The website is www.nbcri.ie.