By: Bryant Lopez, Follow South Jersey Intern
VINELAND, N.J. – The Seventh Annual Pink Walk for breast cancer awareness took place on Friday, Oct. 6 at Dandelion Plaza with proceeds going to the Champions of Hope Awareness Group. Champions of Hope specializes in anyone who is diagnosed with breast cancer. The group helps to provide meals and many of their needs.
The event was organized by Dixon’s Dance Academy. Owner Nancy Dixon began the Pink Walk to honor Diane Dixon, her mother who is a breast cancer survivor.
“It’s so common now that you can be diagnosed very early with breast cancer,” said Dixon. “My mom, when she was first diagnosed, I think she was in her thirties. So to educate young women and men of the importance of self-examination following up with mammograms and things, the earlier they can start it’s easier for them to prevent breast cancer from spreading.”
The academy opened up in 2004, and they are going into their 20th year of dance in the Vineland. They have competed in competitions over the last 19 seasons. They compete locally in northern Jersey and Atlantic City. Dixon always had a passion for dancing and decided after she graduated college in 2004 to come back to Vineland and open the academy. The academy currently has over 200 students doing all styles of dance such as ballet, hip-hop, and Zumba.
“I think it was the way for me as a young girl to be able to express myself, but not in words because at that time I was very shy,” said Dixon. “I was very quiet. I didn’t know how to process that. My mother may or may not die. So dance really helped me use my body to communicate in a way that my mind or my mouth was sane.”
There were many vendors that participated in the pink walk and activities that everyone could do. Big John’s Pizza Queen, Nature’s Juice Cafe, Rapha Skincare, and different companies around the community were at the event.
“So we’ve always just been big community supporters,” said Dixon. “So just to have people come out and be here and support one another and show appreciation for breast cancer awareness, it’s such a meaningful experience. I love to give back to the community. I love to feel like a family-oriented business for not just my family.”
One of the tables that were set up was to raise awareness for dwarfism with Valeria Detetta, a school counselor at Sgt. Dominick Pilla Middle School. At her table was a flier for an event called Racing Awareness for Dwarfism, a Ride On car show, and a fundraiser. The event is taking place at Pilla Middle School on Oct. 14 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. The proceeds support the Pilla activity fund and a portion will go to Dupont’s Skeletal Dysplasia department.
Detetta has been friends with Dixon since high school and wanted to raise awareness as her daughter has dwarfism. Her daughter practices dance at Dixon’s Dance Academy.
“So we started doing events last year at my school to raise awareness because it’s a middle school to raise awareness of differences but especially for dwarfism,” said Detetta. “So that when she grows up people are familiar with dwarfism and she’s not looked at any different, she’s accepted. And really just to bring awareness to that whole community as well as all the differences that are around in the world.”
Stephanie Garbenhire came out to support the event as she was diagnosed with breast cancer. She found out at the end of March of this year during her lunch break.
“When I came home that day from work, I had told my mom, we said a prayer,” said Garbenhire. “Me, my mom and my daughter said a prayer. I didn’t even really know exactly what type of breast cancer I was diagnosed with yet. And I didn’t even realize how many different types there are until I was diagnosed.”
This is her first time participating in the Pink Walk and wanted to spread awareness.
“It’s important because sometimes mammograms don’t catch everything,” said Garbenhire. “And it’s important that if you feel something different in your body, in your breast, to get more screening besides mammograms. Because sometimes that’s not enough because I always got my mammograms.”
According to the American Cancer Society(ACS), about 30% (or 1 in 3) of all new female cancers each year. About 297,790 new cases of invasive breast cancer will be diagnosed in women and about 43,700 women will die from breast cancer. according to ACS. ACS states that breast cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death in women.
The United States Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) recommends that women who are 50 to 74 years old and are at average risk for breast cancer get a mammogram every two years.
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