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Walk scheduled in Westmoreland County to benefit breast cancer research

| Wednesday, Sept. 4, 2013, 9:02 p.m.

More than 300 women in Westmoreland County are diagnosed with breast cancer each year.

Westmoreland Walks Inc., a nonprofit organization that aims to help local women and men who have been diagnosed with the disease, is holding its 12th annual walk at Twin Lakes Park in Greensburg on Oct. 5.

“The walk is our biggest fundraiser of the year,” said the group's treasurer and board member, Cheryl McMullen of Rector. “It helps us bring awareness to the county.”

Last year, more than 400 participants joined in the fight against breast cancer by walking at Twin Lakes, and the organization is hoping for an even greater turn out this year.

A portion of the proceeds from the annual walk will be donated to the Pennsylvania Breast Cancer Coalition, a nonprofit network that represents and supports breast cancer survivors and their families in Pennsylvania by educating them, participating in legislative advocacy and funding breast cancer research.

“Research is making great strides in enabling women and men to live with this disease,” said president of Westmoreland Walks Kathy Brown of Ligonier. “We're winning the battle.”

McMullen said one of the benefits of supporting the coalition is keeping funds local.

“We're very conscience of keeping our money in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania,” McMullen said.

Westmoreland Walks, a grassroots partner of PBCC, will be recognized in October with the ‘Shining Light' award for their outstanding support of the organization.

Additionally, Westmoreland Walks uses funds for activities such as a Spa Serenity Day for local women who have recently been diagnosed with breast cancer and the Pink Ribbon Scholarship, which to provide financial support to graduating high school seniors whose families have been affected by the disease.

Since the inception of Westmoreland Walks in 2002, more than $325,000 has been raised and used towards breast cancer research and support.

Participants are encouraged to join in the Pink Ribbon Walk around Twin Lakes Park that begins at 11 am at Pavilion No. 7.

The event will begin with a ‘celebration of life' in which a cancer survivor will speak and share her story and then all attending survivors will be recognized.

“We honor who is there and have a moment of silence for those we've lost,” McMullen said.

Registration options are as follows: mail-in registration costs $25 with a Sept. 18 deadline, download a form at or call 724-382-4148.

On-line registration costs $26 and has a deadline of Sept. 28.

Walk-in registration, which is $25, will be held by the upper level of JC Penney in Westmoreland Mall 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sept. 21, 5 to 8 p.m. Sept. 27 and 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sept. 28. During these times, anyone who has registered can also pick up a complimentary T-shirt and information about the walk.

Participants can also register the day of the event for $30, beginning at 9 a.m.

In addition to the walk, Westmoreland Walks Inc. is asking all businesses and residences in Westmoreland County to ‘go pink' for October, which is breast cancer awareness month.

Last year, more than 100 businesses participated in the month-long event and turned Route 30 pink by decorating and displaying pink ribbons. This year, the goal has expanded to include all of Westmoreland County

“It was so impressive last year to drive down Route 30 and see everything pink. There was so much support,” Brown said. “This year, other towns wanted to be included.”

Brown said the slogan for this year's event is, “Last year Route 30 — this year the county!”

Holly Mowrey, executive director of the Ligonier Chamber of Commerce, said Ligonier plans to participate in the event.

“We want people to know we care,” said McMullen, “and we want to raise awareness. If just one person becomes aware of the importance of doing a self exam, or one person who has been diagnosed is helped, we've done our job. If it takes turning the whole county pink, that's what we'll do.”

Cami DiBattista is a contributing writer for Trib Total Media.