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Breast cancer fundraiser could be large

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GOUVERNEUR — The Gouverneur Business Women Breast Cancer Walk on Saturday could be the biggest in the event’s 12-year history.

“People are really becoming aware of us,” said Terry A. Pistolesi, one of the organizers. “People are wanting to become more involved with us. We don’t have administrative fees. They know the money is going back to the patients.”

The organization is a godsend for many diagnosed with breast cancer in St. Lawrence, Jefferson and Lewis counties as it takes on the financial needs of those in treatment, whether it be a utility bill, medication cost or transportation.

“It is very difficult and stressful battling breast cancer. We feel by relieving the financial burden, it will give the patient a more positive attitude, which is very important,” President Carolyn T. Pistolesi said. “We feel it will give them more hope, more courage, more strength to fight and beat the disease. Our goal is to have more survivors.”

In 2011-12, the organization handed out 100 gift bags to patients. From 2012 to the present, it gave out 234 gift bags, demonstrating its outreach has grown.

“What we’re finding is that some patients have family members who have started teams that come and walk,” Terry Pistolesi said.

Some large teams are expected this year, including one from Claxton-Hepburn Medical Center, Ogdensburg, which coordinates with the Ogdensburg Teachers Association. Years past have seen 500 walkers, but this year’s event could attract upwards of 700.

The event starts with registration at 8:30 a.m. in the village park. The first 300 registrants receive gift bags filled with goodies from sponsors. Those who donate $35 or more receive a T-shirt. The walk typically raises $50,000 to $70,000.

As of Dec. 31, the group has helped more than 354 women and raised more than $622,050.

Opening ceremonies start at 10:15 a.m. The one-mile walk heads down Main Street, turns at Johnstown Street to Mills Memorial Park, crosses the bridge over the Oswegatchie River and ends at Riverside Park, where prizes from a button raffle are awarded. Brown’s Jewelers has donated diamond earrings valued at $2,600 as a prize in a separate raffle.

“We get so much support, it’s unbelievable,” Carolyn Pistolesi said.

The event turns more serious as survivors and victims are honored.

“We go from a lot of joy downtown to the emotional,” Terry Pistolesi said. “You’re remembering someone or the compassion comes out.”

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