Brooklynites raise more than $700K for breast cancer awareness at ‘Making Strides’ walk in Coney Island

These Brooklynites were really thinking pink.

About 25,000 participants descended on Coney Island on Sunday for the Making Strides Against Breast Cancer five-kilometer walk, sponsored by the American Cancer Society. The event made its Coney Island debut this year, as it was previously held in Prospect Park, but the location change didn’t faze one longtime local attendee, who said she would attend the walk no matter where it was held.

“It was amazing, there were so many people,” said Debbie Brown, a Sheepshead Bay resident who has marched with her 11-year-old daughter, Sophia Rosas, for as many years. “Every year since I had my daughter, I marched, even with her in the carriage. When it’s something dear to you, it’s something you find very fulfilling.”

Like many marchers, Brown and Rosas marched in memory of a woman — in their case, Rosas’ great-grandmother, Antoinette Caiati — who lost her battle with breast cancer in 2006, just before Rosas was born. Brown said that this was her daughter’s way of honoring the woman who she never met. Brown also said that the pair have met many unforgettable people by walking and talking in the annual event over the years.

“What we liked most is talking to people and listening to their stories,” she said.

The event started and ended at MCU Park, looping back from Coney Island Avenue in Brighton Beach, and kicked off with an opening ceremony where Assemblywoman Pamela Harris (D–Coney Island) — a breast cancer survivor — spoke about her own experience, which was shared by so many in attendance. And after the walk, the party continued on the Boardwalk, with a drum line, food, and performances by local high school cheerleaders.

The senior manager of the American Cancer Society for Brooklyn and Staten Island said that the participants raised more than $700,000, and that folks can continue donating online until the end of the year, adding that the celebratory mood of the marchers was indicative of the event’s success in its first year in its new neighborhood.

“Everybody was just incredibly passionate about making strides against breast cancer, and it was just a joyful celebration out on the Boardwalk, where on a normal October day it would have been empty,” said Nancy Colt.

Reach reporter Julianne McShane at (718) 260–2523 or by e-mail at jmcshane@cnglocal.com. Follow her on Twitter @juliannemcshane.

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