Spencer Florczak, 16, hadn’t been born when his grandmother, Charlie Banks, battled breast cancer about 20 years ago, but he’s grateful for the treatments she went through. Without them, he wouldn’t have known her.
“That would have been terrible,” Florczak said. “She’s a great woman.”
Florczak was one of the nearly 200 participants in the Steps to Help Breast Cancer Awareness Walk and Run at Ranburne High School. The money raised will be split between Regional Medical Center’s Steel Magnolias, a volunteer group that serves women undergoing treatment for breast cancer, and Tanner Hospital’s Breast Health Center, said Runa Kimbrell, who organized the event with her sister, Shelby Lueke.
Last year, the walk raised about $5,000, Kimbrell said. She thinks this year the total will be higher.
“It’s getting bigger every year,” Kimbrell said.
The event included the band Homegrown from Carrollton, Ga., and speaker LeMerle McIntyre, a breast cancer survivor.
A number of people from McIntyre’s church, Kansas Baptist Church in Waco, Ga., came to the walk to support her. They’re members of Run for God at the church, according to Amy Adams, one of seven members of the group who ran the 5-kilometer course at 7 a.m.
Maddie Rogers, 10, one of the younger members of the group, finished fifth in the 5K, the first she’d ever run. She came with her grandmother, but also because she knows and likes McIntyre, Rogers said.
But Kimbrell also wanted the day to be about prevention. She invited Tanner’s Mammograms on the Move, a mobile mammography clinic which was started last year, to the event to do mammograms on site. The clinic travels to events, businesses and churches, according to Virginia Fortson, the mammotechnologist.
“We’re trying to make everything as convenient as possible,” Fortson said. “The more convenient it is the more people will show up.”
The mobile clinic eases problems with transportation, she said. The results are sent to the woman’s doctor and to her, Fortson said, and the results come in just as quickly from the mobile clinic as from the clinic at the Breast Health Center in Carrollton, Ga.
The mobile clinic allows people to make appointments in advance or just walk in, she said. The clinic had already done four mammograms before the walk started at 9 a.m.
Margaret Taylor, one of the Steel Magnolia volunteers at the event, said their group serves an increasing number of women who are undergoing breast cancer and other cancer treatments.
“It seems like more and more every year,” Taylor said.
One of their services, the Pinks Boutique located in the Physicians’ Center in Anniston, is stocked with wigs, breast prosthesis, hats, scarves and mastectomy bras that women can pick up for free. Taylor estimated that the boutique alone serves 100 to 150 women a year.
The Steel Magnolias have to do several fundraisers a year, including a golf tournament in the spring, to fund the work it does. The money raised here will help them continue their mission.
Doris Kemmerlin, 74, from Woodland, came to the walk to remember her daughter Candi Arrington, who died of breast cancer 12 years ago. Kemmerlin, who was undergoing breast cancer treatments at the same time, has been doing work for Susan G. Komen and raising money through walks since shortly after her daughter was diagnosed.
“My mother had it; I had it,” Kemmerlin said. “When you lose somebody, there’s not much you can do. This is something we can do.”
Saturday was her first walk in about 18 months, Kemmerlin said.
“I just had this knee replaced twice in a year,” Kemmerlin said. “This is my test run. We’ll see if I make it.”
Staff writer Laura Camper: 256-235-3545. On Twitter @LCamper_Star.