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Making Strides Toward a Cure

Charity: More than 3,000 people, including breast cancer survivors, relatives and friends, set off on a three-day walk to raise money to fight the disease.


Pelting rain wasn't enough to keep hearty supporters of breast cancer research from completing a Friday morning walk at San Buenaventura Beach Park.

As cold and wet as it was, each of the 3,100 men and women who participated in Friday's Avon Breast Cancer 3-Day Walk had to know those they were helping had endured much more.

The Friday walk was part of a nationwide effort to draw attention to the disease and raise money for a cure. Each year breast cancer kills about 41,200 women in the United States.

The second day of the walk will begin at 9:30 this morning at Oxnard State Beach near the corner of Harbor Boulevard and Eastbourne Bay. After today's 20-mile hike, the walkers will sleep overnight in the gymnasium at Ocean View Middle School before making their way to Malibu for the final leg. Walkers spent Friday night camped out on San Buenaventura Beach.

Walkers collected donations and pledges. The minium contribution for each walker was $1,800. So far this year, 18,000 people nationwide have participated in the three-day walks and raised $36.5 million. At the end of Friday's hike, blue tents awaited the group of friends, family and survivors of breast cancer.

Some have trained months for the walk, which Avon officials estimate will raise $6.6 million for breast cancer research and other support services.

Joining the walk was a milestone for Ventura resident Beverly Eidson, 74. She heard about the event last year while undergoing radiation treatment for breast cancer.

"It's a shock when you learn you have cancer. You wonder every day if it's spreading," said Eidson who smiled and looked at her watch as a reminder she has remained free of cancer for one year and two days.

Eidson waited beneath a tree for her son Glen. The two signed up for the fund-raiser together. When chemotherapy made Eidson's hair fall out, her son shaved his head in a show of solidarity.

The mother and son team spent every weekend training together.

"I felt bad about taking him away from his family," Eidson said. "But they were proud of us."

Courtney Lercara-Zinszer, 37, of Pacific Palisades has twice beaten breast cancer.

Her first diagnosis came when she was 33, the second two years later. She went through four months of chemotherapy and 35 radiation treatments. Not long after, she discovered a lump in her other breast, which resulted in a mastectomy.

Lercara-Zinszer and her husband Ron did the walk last year with their families and raised $8,000. The duo expects to collect $5,000 this year.

The event is bittersweet for the couple. Ron's mother recently died from breast cancer.

At the end of the walk, participants were greeted by 500 volunteers offering everything from coffee and food trays to a place to rest sore feet.

About a dozen trucks ferried walkers' duffel bags from the starting line. Sterrett Harper, 48, visited the foot-care triage table for treatment of a blister. He didn't mind the pain, or the needle a doctor poked in his foot.

Harper heard about the event at last year's closing ceremony.

"A group of survivors held hands and made this circle of life," he said. "They were praying for those who didn't make it."

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