At Bellwood Breast Cancer Walk/Run, Affected Residents Race For A Cure

Sunday, June 30, 2019 || By Igor Studenkov || @maywoodnews

Featured image: Bellwood Village Clerk Janel Moreland (third from left) with area elected officials and community members during her second annual Pink Divas & Gents Walk/Run on June 29. | Courtesy Bellwood Mayor Andre Harvey/Facebook

More than 300 people, most of whom either live or work in Bellwood, walked and jogged to raise awareness about breast cancer this past Saturday.

Some were survivors themselves. Some marched in support, or in memory of, friends and loved ones that experienced the disease. And some simply wanted to show their support.

As they walked, many residents cheered, while police officers from Bellwood, Melrose Park, Hillside and other nearby suburbs provided escort and support.

The June 29 Pink Divas & Gents Walk/Run, was organized by village clerk Janel Moreland, who has planned the event for two consecutive years for very personal reasons. Her paternal grandmother died from the disease. In addition, Moreland had a scare in her early 40s, when the doctors found what turned out to be a benign mass.

“I wanted to raise awareness for women, especially in the minority community, because African American women have the highest mortality rate of breast cancer,” she said. “This is something that I wanted to support [in order to] raise awareness.”

Moreland said that around 220 people attended the first walk/run last summer. The clerk said that she pays for the event through private donations and corporate sponsorships. This year, she was able to raise around $10,000.

Bellwood trustee Jophelia Boston is one of the many breast cancer survivors who took part in the walk. She said that her cancer was caught during the earliest stage possible and that she’s been in remission for the past 11 years. She said that, when Moreland told her she was organizing the walk a year ago, she was eager to help.

The awareness, she said, is important. Looking back, Boston wished she had taken interest in her family’s history with breast cancer before she was diagnosed. That is why, she said, she insisted on making sure her nieces know that history.

Participants during Saturday’s Pink Divas & Gents Walk/Run decked Washington Boulevard in pink. | Courtesy Bellwood Mayor Andre Harvey/Facebook

Diana Thomas, who works at Proviso West High School, said that she walked for her sister, who is a breast cancer survivor, and because she generally wanted to support the village of Bellwood.

Maywood Trustee Isiah Brandon said that he has family members who have been diagnosed with various cancers. He said that he wanted to take part in the walk to support Moreland and to bring awareness to the worthwhile cause.

“We need to bring awareness, we need to bring together resources to find the solution for this disease,” Brandon said.

“I really believe that early detection is important,” said state Rep. Emanuel “Chris” Welch (7th). “For women, its breast cancer; for men, it’s prostate cancer.”

Lindsay Chase, of Bellwood, said that she lost her mother to breast cancer.

“I’m hoping for a cure, for breast cancer and all cancers,” she said. “That’s my wish.”

Linda Reed, an Oak Park resident whose mother lives in Bellwood, was also diagnosed with breast cancer. She’s been in remission for 19 years and taking part in the walk was an easy decision for her to make.

“I just feel that supporting these causes is so, so important, so that people are aware and that they get treatment, instead of sitting around waiting to get it,” she said. VFP

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