This article originally appeared in the Friday June 21, 2019 issue of the Progress Times.
This year, two major groups advocating for breast cancer awareness are joining forces with one local event.
The Mission Regional Medical Center (MRMC) and the American Cancer Society (ACS) are combining planning and resources to coordinate a breast cancer walk on Oct. 12, 2019. The 10th annual Mission Pink Walk/Run will benefit ACS’s “Making Strides Against Breast Cancer” cause.
Last year the groups held separate but equally effective walks for the cause. This year, they hope their partnership will draw the biggest crowd of participants, patients and survivors to the Rio Grande Valley yet.
April Chapa, Senior Community Development Manager with the South Region of the American Cancer Society, said that the idea of partnering for this event came about last year, but as MRMC was being acquired by Prime Healthcare Services they had to wait until this year.
“Everything was about seeing what the strategy would be and the work and planning [for the event],” said MRMC Business Development and Marketing Director Paola Lopez. “And once everything settled down, we were able to partner with the American Cancer Society.”
Mission Pink will take place on the Mission Regional Medical Center grounds (900 S. Bryan Rd.) and will include the main event, interactive and informative booths and resources. Pets are welcome to attend as well.
Registration for the walk/run will be $25 for general and $20 for survivors, and funds will be donated to “Making Strides Against Breast Cancer” cause. Participants can fundraise more for the cause as well.
“Mission Pink is definitely a very important event for the hospital,” Lopez said. “It’s for the community.”
The goal of Mission Pink, which always takes place in October in honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, is to further educate the community and fundraise for ACS resources in the Rio Grande Valley.
“As a non-profit organization, Mission Regional Medical Center is always proactive about engaging in activities that will benefit the health of the community,” said CEO of Mission Regional Medical Center, Kane Dawson, in a press release. “Mission Pink does exactly that – it reminds women to get themselves checked and schedule their annual mammograms.”
Chapa and Lopez echoed those sentiments, saying early detection and awareness has led to lives being saved across the country.
“We have very innovative research going on right now at ACS that can help save lives,” Chapa said. “And now women are being diagnosed at Stage 0, and they have such a high chance of survival because of that. The survival rate is increasing.”
“As the hospital that we are, our main goal is to have a healthy community,” Lopez said. “So for us, it’s very important that these events happen because that raises awareness.”
Through fundraising efforts like these, ACS specifically provides several services to cancer patients in the Rio Grande Valley.
“With ACS, we serve the whole Valley, so partnering with the hospital just seemed like a really good idea for us to hit a bigger demographic,” Chapa said. “We consider a survivor anybody that’s been diagnosed with cancer, so if they’re diagnosed and they need to get treatment we [ACS] offer free rides and free wigs all because of the fundraising we do here locally, it stays here.”
Lopez and Chapa’s events drew over 3,000 people, so they are aiming to increase the number of participants in 2019. Chapa noted that there was confusion from residents last year over the two events, so eliminating that through one singular event will clear things up so everyone can come out.
“People came not only from the Valley, but from Monterrey, from Austin, Houston, Dallas and San Antonio,” Lopez said. “We have very loyal followers.”
Chapa has her hands full with several ACS events coming up, including the Cattle Baron’s Ball, Saddle Up Under the Moonlight Fashion Show (being held next Thursday, June 27 at The Reserve in Edinburg) and Cattle Baron’s Ball on Sept. 21, but they are already getting ready for Mission Pink.
“We wanted to join pink forces to have one big, successful event,” Chapa added. “I feel like some of the survivors were torn between the two events, or some of them were confused, and that’s why we started this, because people want a pink event in the community.”
The organizations are still looking for more sponsors and participants. More information about the cause and event can be found at www.makingstrideswalk.org/riograndetx or by contacting April Chapa at (956) 682-8329.