Summit County resident Bonnie Pierce is looking forward to walking in this weekend's Avon Walk for Breast Cancer Rocky Mountains because her family had so much support from the community when her mother was sick, she feels like it's a good way to give back.
Pierce will walk on team Deb's Angel Babies along with her sister Kelsey, two friends, and her mom's friend Kathy Taylor. They will walk in memory of Pierce's mother, Deb Pierce, who lost her battle with breast cancer in 2006.
"I think she'd be happy we're doing it," Bonnie Pierce said. "I think it'll be fun."
The crew from Deb's Angel Babies will be five of thousands of survivors and participants from across Colorado and the United States gathering in Summit County to support the breast cancer cause this weekend.
The Avon Walks offer participants a choice of walking a marathon (26.2-miles) or a marathon-and-a-half (39.3-miles) over a weekend. Walkers raise a minimum of $1,800 to participate and the Avon Foundation for Women distributes all funds raised to local, regional and national breast cancer organizations supporting access to care and research.
"That's really our focus - raising these funds and bringing awareness to breast cancer," said Emily Caldwell, Rocky Mountains walk operations manager.
Last year's Rocky Mountains walk garnered $1.9 million, and organizers are hoping to repeat the experience, according to Caldwell.
Walkers begin early at Keystone Resort June 23, and complete one of two routes - 26.2 miles, or the 13.1 half-marathon option. After the first leg, workers and crew will camp at the walk's "wellness village" at Summit County Middle School. The village - equipped with pink tents, hot meals, showers, yoga, medical services and entertainment - will provide a relaxing haven for participants as they rest up for the second leg of the walk.
On Sunday, all participants follow the same route - a final 13.1-miles - before meeting up on Main Street in Breckenridge for what Caldwell said is always a touching closing ceremony. Walkers all come in and surround the survivors.
"Just seeing it, it brings chills," Caldwell said. "Everyone feels accomplished by what they did."
This weekend will be Loveland resident and breast cancer survivor Brooke Hupp's third Avon Rocky Mountain walk.
Hupp was diagnosed with the disease in February of 2009 at the age of 37. She underwent a bilateral mastectomy two months later and was able to escape from going through chemotherapy. Her first walk was in 2010; Hupp's team is one she and a friend started - Team STABOS, or "save them all, big or small."
"Besides getting married and having kids, it's the absolute best experience of my life," Hupp said. "You'll see everything from someone saying 'I walk in memory of my mom,' to women going through it. You see everything."
Before cancer, Hupp considered participating in the Avon event, but thought it was a long walk and a lot of money to raise. Now she advises others to not let the distance, or the money, hinder them. Avon walk employees can give suggestions for fundraising, and as Hupp pointed out, most people are willing to give because chances are they know someone affected.
"I cannot wait," Hupp said. "What better place besides Summit County to spend two days walking?"
Saturday, June 23
6:30 a.m. - Opening ceremony, Keystone Resort Marmot lot, 211 Keystone Road, Keystone
7 a.m. - 6:30 p.m. - Participants follow Saturday's route (13.1 miles or 26.2 miles)
3-7 p.m. - Wellness village at Summit Middle School, 185 School Road, Frisco
Sunday, June 3
7 a.m. - 2:30 p.m. - All walkers follow Sunday's route of 13.1-miles
2:45 p.m. - Closing ceremony on Main Street in Breckenridge
> Walkers can still sign up. For more information on the Avon Walk for Breast Cancer, or to register, visit www.avonwalk.org or call (888) 541-WALK.