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Susan G. Komen More than Pink
April 4, 2023
This past summer, I received a life-changing phone call from my step-grandmother: she informed me that she had been diagnosed with breast cancer, and mentioned her doctor could not confirm which stage her cancer had progressed to. The phone line went silent, and I was instantly paralyzed with fear and apprehension.
My step-grandmother lives in Haiti and because of the lack of preventive health care services, the capacity to access quick screenings and a proper diagnosis was severely hampered. With Haiti’s constant political strife, I also feared that she would not have the opportunity to receive the healthcare she desperately needed. Her diagnosis severely shook my family, as we were uncertain of her future.
I have always been passionate about social justice and healthcare equality, and knew that I had to do my part in helping ensure that all women, including girls my age, gain access to urgent services to protect themselves from diseases such as breast cancer.
This summer, at the Key Biscayne Fourth of July Community Parade, my mother introduced me to Sergio Mendoza. My mother informed me that Sergio was involved with the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer foundation, and could potentially help me get involved with the cause. During our conversation, Sergio discussed not only the incredible strides the organization has made to date, but also the awareness they were able to raise regarding breast cancer prevention. Sergio also reflected on his wife’s struggle with metastatic breast cancer; he explained that before his beloved wife Sarah had passed, she had always been involved in local charities and philanthropic activities throughout Miami. Sarah always had an immense passion for giving back to her community. Thus, Sergio felt it was his life’s mission to carry out Sarah’s legacy, and naturally became involved with the Susan G. Komen Organization.
After meeting Sergio and sharing my family’s heartbreaking story and my desire to help spread the word on prevention, he and Alexa – the development manager for the South Florida branch of Susan G. Komen – appointed me as the Youth Volunteer Chair for the Miami/Fort Lauderdale MORE THAN PINK Walk. As the Youth Volunteer Chair, I had the opportunity to not only help with volunteer outreach, but help Sergio, Alexa and his team spread awareness about breast cancer prevention to members of the community. In the forthcoming months, Sergio and his team would spend countless hours planning for the two culminating events, the Pink Key Society gala and the MORE THAN PINK Walk.
On Thursday, October 6, 2022, Sergio’s Pink Key Society held a spectacular gala honoring not only breast cancer survivors and volunteers, but also the supporters who so generously donated the necessary funds to keep critical breast cancer research advancing. The gala featured women and men clad in elegant pink themed attire, in a venue that sparkled throughout, all to support Sergio Mendoza’s Pink Key Society breast cancer team, which has raised an astounding $49,952.28 to date!
Sergio made a profound and moving speech that evening. He shared his touching story about Sarah, and expressed gratitude to the guests in attendance for helping him alongside his journey. During the gala, guests were served tasty cocktails, scrumptious brick-oven gourmet pizza, decadent desserts, and gave the attendees the opportunity to share stories and hopes relating to the fight against breast cancer. With The Pink Key Society gala under their belt, the next event would be the Susan G. Komen More Than Pink Walk.
Saturday, October 8th, 2022, approached quickly. After months of meeting with Alexa and Sergio to recruit volunteers and discuss the event, the day finally arrived. Alongside some fellow high-school volunteers, I arrived at the site at 5:30am and began helping out with last-minute touches to set up the event. Soon after, a swarm of people began to arrive. There was a sea of thousands of pink shirts and sponsor booths throughout the Amelia Earhart Park. At the sponsor booths, attendees had the opportunity to learn more about breast cancer screening, prevention and even had the chance to pick up some free souvenirs! After hearing countless awe-inspiring speeches, we were ready to begin. Attendees, clad in various shades of pink, gathered around the starting line. When the horn blared, those in attendance began the 2.3-mile walk. I walked with my friends throughout the long course, as we proudly waved our Komen bandanas in the air throughout our journey.
I am beyond humbled and honored to have worked with Sergio and his incredible Pink Key Society, as well as the phenomenal Susan G. Komen organization. On October 8th, I walked for those with unequal access to healthcare. I walked for those who have passed away because of breast cancer. I walked for those who have lost a loved one to breast cancer. I walked for those who are currently battling breast cancer. And lastly, I walked to find a cure to end breast cancer.