To save lives, The County lets pink trump orange

by Jen Lynds

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Walkers pose for a pic at the Bridge to Hope Breast Cancer Walk in Houlton in 2012.

In Octobers of the past in Aroostook County, it was customary to see the red, yellow, orange and golden leaves that were falling off the trees as summer turned into autumn, or brown potatoes and the dust that accompanied them from the fields.

But just in the past five years, one color–pink– has rallied to outshine all of the others, and to raise awareness about a life-threatening disease at the same time.

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and several organizations in The County are planning walks, events and fundraisers to garner cash for a disease that affects 1 in 8 women, according to the Susan G. Komen Foundation.

Northern Maine Community College will celebrate by hosting a fund-raising walk on October 8 at noon.  This is the third year the college has held this event, which raises money for Pink Aroostook, a program that provides financial assistance and educational services to individuals in need who are undergoing treatment for breast cancer. Last year, the walk raised $1,400, all of which stayed local, according to NMCC officials.

This walk has extra special meaning to the college this year, as it is dedicated to Heidi Graham, an NMCC employee who lost her battle with breast cancer in May of 2013.

“We’re happy to honor Heidi’s memory in this special way, and to give back to the community and to a cause we are passionate about,” explained Linda Mastro, NMCC director of health services and event organizer.

The walk begins in front of the Smith Wellness Center and will cover the loop around the Christie Building complex.  Walkers can collect sponsor money or make their own personal donations.  Sponsor forms are available on the NMCC website at nmcc.edu or on campus at the NMCC library or counseling office.  For those who would like to support the cause but are unable to walk, donations can be dropped off in person at the NMCC library or mailed to the NMCC Health Center, 33 Edgemont Drive, Presque Isle, ME 04769.

The University of Maine at Presque Isle is partnering with The Aroostook Medical Center to host their 3rd Annual Breast Cancer Awareness Women’s Expo. The event will focus on breast cancer prevention and early detection, healthy living, stress relief and celebrating life. It will be held on Wednesday, Oct. 1 from 6–9 p.m. at Gentile Hall. This event is free and campus and community members of all ages are invited to attend. The entire gymnasium will host four different main attractions. One area of the gym will have vendor tables for TAMC and other local businesses to display health information, organization or business information, and business and product advertising. 

Another area of the gym will be set aside for 30-minute educational workshops. Topics will include breast cancer early detection, plant-based cancer preventing foods, “Sugar Blues,” and a Reiki demonstration. In another corner of the gym, 30-minute fitness sessions will be offered, including the rock wall (open exclusively for women from 6-8:30 p.m.), Aqua Zumba, Pilates and yoga. All of these activities are free. The fourth and final area of attraction is the stress relief component. Everyone will win either a free chair massage, manicure, or glitter tattoos.

The night ends with the mini luminary ceremony outside Gentile Hall, and the candlelight vigil walk through campus, starting at 8:30 p.m. Members of the UMPI Owls “We Give a Hoot” Relay for Life team are helping to facilitate these activities.

Houlton’s Bridge To Hope Breast Cancer Awareness Walk will be on October 18th. Organizers are still planning details about the event. This will be the ninth annual walk for the organization, which raises money to support cancer patients and their families. All of the money stays local.

Check for more fundraising events in your area.