Walking for the Cure
by Jenny Huang
2012 has come and gone. To some students, this may be a regrettable outcome, as that test on Monday still exists. However, for the United Nations organization, 2013 is merely part of the last stretch to the finishing line—2015.
What’s so significant about 2015? Well, it is the year in which all eight of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) will be fulfilled. In 2000, 193 nations and territories across the world met at the Millennium Summit to discuss about problems—worldwide problems that were detracting the quality of life granted to every human being, like the absence of universal primary education and equality between both genders.
But these plaguing issues are not only present in the United Nations. An empowerment program called the Dream Project, created by Kelly Sullivan Walden, has made the eight MDGs part of school life in middle and high schools all across the United States.
Particularly run-down, “ghetto” Benjamin Franklin High School in Highland Park. In this seemingly no-name school, the dream of inspiring, educating, and taking action to achieve the eight MDGs is ablaze. On March 15, 2013, the school’s own Dream Project Club will launch a “Pink Walk” to raise money to donate to a local nonprofit organization in order to combat against Breast Cancer and to empower women. Although the date has yet to approach, the club has already attracted the afterschool UCLA program and received one club’s entire cooperation on the day of the walk.
Of course, “Pink Walk” no doubt begs the question, “What is it?” And of course, “Why do people want to do it?”
The idea is very simple. Akin to the large-scale “AIDS Walk” held in New York, San Francisco, Wisconsin, and Los Angeles, participants of the walk will receive a sponsor paper prior March 15. These participants will ask teachers, coworkers, friends, and family to pledge an amount of money to be donated for each lap the participants intend to complete during the walk. Finally, when the day arrives, the walkers will roll up their sleeves and begin their 2-hour walk (or run) around the track.
The previous “Pink Walk” had been a highly healthy, entertaining, and reflective activity. Many students became competitive with one another sooner or later during the walk, racing each other and doing more laps than they had sought to do before. When students began to grow tired, Dream Project Club and other volunteers cheered them on, rewarding them with fresh, cold water and towels for their hard-earned sweat. Those who took a break listened and read presentations about breast cancer. Some even visited the Message Boards—shout-outs to those who passed on due to the disease.
But what propels people to attend the “Pink Walk”? To suffer in the sweltering heat on a Friday late afternoon, running in circles on the school track (no doubt many students’ anathema)? To earn large amounts of money that one cannot keep?
Personally, I ran in the past “Pink Walk” because I had a dream about the world in my 9th grade year. In my dream, the world was covered in soft, luminous grass, surrounded by cascading waterfalls and smooth, clean rivers. Sitting on plaid picnic blankets were African and Latin American children feasting on scrumptious bread, while the legless man I had seen on Chinese streets was meditating happily. Women and teachers of all races were embracing even younger children carrying books. At the “Pink Walk”, others and I raised over 1000 dollars—enough to help those in my dream and more.
For others, the “Pink Walk” was more than a fundraiser—it was a way to be with their loved ones. Grace Punzalan (now the Franklin High School’s Dream Project president) had ran 12 miles in a bright pink shirt, raising over $70 alone. But she wasn’t alone. Even though her mother had died of breast cancer when she was just 3 years old, she had told herself, “Maybe, I would feel a little more [sic] closer to her by doing the Pink Walk.” And in the back of her mind, with every step she pushed out of her legs, she became more certain of the thought: “I knew I was running against breast cancer.” To this day, she still says, smiling, “I knew I was running for my mom.”
March 15 will certainly be a day of reckoning. Perhaps with this walk, the world will be one step closer to the cure.