Why do you walk?
That question is a mantra of sorts for the millions of people who lace up their walking shoes and hit the highways and byways in support of the Susan G. Komen cancer organization.
Many participants have a story about how the disease touched their lives, and the South Whidbey walkers for this year’s “Susan G. Komen 3-Day Walk” are no exception.
Staff at The Goose Community Grocer in Bayview formed a Whidbey team to take part in the Sept. 13-15 event, which opens with a ceremony at Seattle Center.
The stories that come spilling out reach into every nook, crook and corner of the Pacific Northwest, including the South Whidbey community.
Belinda Permentor, an employee of The Goose, received a grim diagnosis last year. She heard the two words that every woman fears, breast cancer.
Luckily, Permentor is living a best-case scenario a year later, but several of her friends were also diagnosed with stage three and stage four breast cancer. One has since passed away.
“My friend is survived by a 9-year-old son,” said Permentor, “and nobody should lose their mom to something so terrible.”
Feeling helpless on her own to make a meaningful contribution to the ongoing trauma for so many women (and men), Permentor settled on the one thing she could confidently do: organize a team to walk for the cure. “I cannot walk their path for them, but I can walk the Susan G. Komen 3-Day to help make their path easier,” she says.
Co-workers came on board, as did others in the community whose lives have been forever changed by a cancer diagnosis.
“It’s my little way of helping, of having some kind of control,” Permentor said.
She finished her MBA while fighting breast cancer and now points out that walking 60 miles in three days is “not as hard as breast cancer.”
Louie Rochon, a well-known artist from Clinton, is joining the Goose group for the three-day, 60-mile walk in September. Each person who walks has a minimum dollar amount that must be raised, and Rochon has boosted contributions by donating one of his own original paintings.
Each person who contributes at least $50 is entered into a drawing to receive the work of art.
“My mother had breast cancer, my sister had breast cancer,” he said. “Since I’ve been doing the walk, I’ve met dozens of women, some who survived and some who didn’t. I’ve learned that one in every eight women are going to have breast cancer in their lifetime, and that’s mind-blowing.”
Rochon reveals that the Susan G. Komen foundation has a bold goal to reduce U.S. breast cancer deaths by 50 percent by the year 2025.
Cutting the number of deaths in half “gives us the inspiration to keep walking,” he said.
All money raised from the Susan G. Komen 3-Day Walk goes to breast cancer awareness and research for the cure, as well as to bring funds to underprivileged parts of the community who may not have health insurance and funds for early detection or treatment.
The Goosefoot Community Fund is providing a $5,000 matching-funds donation.
This Saturday and Sunday, the team, known as “Save the Honkers,” will be sudsing up at a car wash on the corner near The Goose in Bayview to raise money for the cause.
To donate online, visit the official website at the3day.org and navigate to Team Save the Honkers. From there, you can choose a team member and help send them on their way.
As team members and The Goose employees Michelle Canty and Tinky Iddines reiterate, the fight doesn’t stop until breast cancer does.
“It’s out there and it hurts us all,” Iddines said. “Anything where we can be on the solution side is good.
“We’re a big community.”