More than 200 friends, family and neighbors held their Sixth Annual “Walk for the Cure” in the Willow Creek neighborhood in Centennial Sunday morning to remember a friend who died from breast cancer, celebrate with survivors, and raise money for breast cancer treatment and research.
The walk is held each year in conjunction with the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure in downtown Denver.
Friends Juhi Johnson and Kim Conway are the organizers and explained how the Willow Creek walk came about six years ago.
“One of our friends was going through breast cancer treatment and was very sick and couldn’t go to the Komen race downtown. Just a few friends got together and walked with her in the neighborhood and it got bigger and bigger every year, “ Johnson said.
That friend was Linda Monson who lost her battle with breast cancer two years ago. Her friends, family and neighbors have continued the walk to remember Monson, but also to support neighbors who’ve battled or are battling breast cancer.
One of those women is Johnson, who was diagnosed seven years ago when she was only 45 years old.
“When I had breast cancer, so many people in Willow Creek supported me by bringing us food and driving my kids to school.”
Johnson, who’s a Realtor for REMAX, said she was shocked by the diagnosis because she was healthy, had no family history of the disease and was young.
Decked out in what she described as her “50 shades of pink” this morning she told the group not to put off getting a mammogram.
“I am living proof that early detection works.”
Conway echoed those sentiments. “One in seven women will get breast cancer, but thanks to early detection, self exams and mammograms, fewer women are dying from it. The reason we keep doing this is for you and to help raise money for cancer treatment and research.”
The walk has turned into a great community and neighborhood event and there were smiles, hugs and even tears as breast cancer survivors were honored before the walk started.
Volunteers included Boy Scout Troop 634 who provided the flag ceremony, Girl Scout Troop 1621 who cheered the walkers on and handed out treats at the end, and the Willow Creek Brownies who provided water along the route. Students from Cherry Creek High School helped set up and tear down the course, did traffic control and showed up at 7:30 in the morning when the Homecoming Dance was the night before.
It’s not quite the same as walking with 40-thousand people through downtown Denver, but as neighbors walked side by side through the winding greenbelts of Willow Creek, Johnson summed it up this way.
“It’s just overwhelming sometimes, the community support. I did the walk downtown and everybody who survives wants to do the big one. But this walk, it’s friends and neighbors and they all come together. You see your neighbors and get hugs, it’s just amazing.”