Cancer Foundation to host 21st Annual Barbara Ireland Walk for Breast Cancer virtually
The Cancer Foundation of Santa Barbara is inviting residents to join Barbara Ireland, her family and other champions of breast cancer this Saturday as they rally for the 21st Annual Barbara Ireland Walk and Run for Breast Cancer.
This year, the walk and run is offering five virtual course options: Shamrock Shuffle, a one-mile walk/run; Leprechaun Leap, a 5-kilometer walk/run; Happy St. Paddy, a five-mile walk/run; Irish Jig, a 10-kilometer walk/run; and Pot of Gold, a 15-kilometer walk/run. (Five kilometers is a little over 3 miles.)
Participants can complete one, two, three, four or all five distances on a course of their own choosing, whether that’s in their neighborhood, on a trail or at the beach, and upload their time. A presentation will be shown Saturday to mark the event.
Barbara Ireland, who started the walk in 2001 in memory of her friend Jan whom she lost to breast cancer, told the News-Press she’s looking forward to this year’s walk/run to see how many are able to participate now that it’s virtual again.
“I think more people are prepared for it to be virtual this year; whereas last year, it was kind of last minute,” she said. “It’s kind of nice to have it virtual because people can do it at their own pace, and they can do it any time of the day and anywhere they are, all over the country, really. We got family in different areas that are involved to participate and friends as well. It’s a blessing in a way.”
Ms. Ireland said that each walk/run she’s put on has reassured her to keep holding them year after year, based on the conversations she has with other women on the walks. She shared a story of one walk/run where she spoke with a woman who was considering getting her mammogram, and after getting it, discovered she had stage IV breast cancer.
However, Ms. Ireland said the woman got it taken care of and she’s fine now.
“I’ve been doing it (the walk) for 21 years, and after five years, I thought, ‘Gosh, I think I should probably stop and do other things.’ But every year when I’d be walking, I’d get to talking to somebody,” she said. “It’s just really good to raise awareness for people for breast cancer so they can get it taken care of.”
She added that raising awareness is especially important during COVID-19.
“People are so careful of getting checked and going into the doctor’s office getting tests done because of the virus, but it’s important to remember that this (cancer screenings) is something that they can do something about. They can get it taken care of and get the information they need and the proper stuff to get it taken care of,” Ms. Ireland said.
The organizers of this year’s walk have set a goal of raising $50,000 for breast cancer research and programs in Santa Barbara. All funds raised from event registration fees and pledges benefit programs at the Ridley-Tree Cancer Center at Sansum Clinic.
Programs include clinical research, which provides access to cutting-edge therapies in the community; genetic counseling, which provides patients with the chance to determine their genetic risk for cancer and possibly have their treatment modified as a result; and navigation, which offers patients a consistent care coordinator during their experience with breast cancer.
Registration opened Feb. 1 and costs $50 for adults, including a bandana and a goodie bag. For children 12 and under, registration is $20. Participants who raise $100 or more will have their registration fees waived.
Everyone is encouraged to register either individually or as a team. The team that raises the most money will have its name engraved on the Pink Ribbon Barbara Ireland Walk trophy.
An award will also be given to the largest team, and the Spirit Award will be given to the participant who is dressed most festively.
New this year are several awards that will be announced on Facebook and Instagram after the event, including Most Creative Route, Best Quaren-team and Social Media Influencer Award.
“One hundred percent of the proceeds go directly to breast cancer research and to help people that are suffering with breast cancer through all walks of their disease,” Ms. Ireland said. “It’s really such a great cause.”