VALPARAISO | Survivors of breast cancer and people with family members who died from the disease crowded Central Park Plaza on Sunday to raise money to continue the strides made in treating breast cancer and battle for a cure.
About 1,500 turned out for a 2.5-mile walk through the residential areas of Valparaiso in hopes of raising $60,000 for the American Cancer Society.
"It's a great amount of people out there," said Hanah Tepe, community events specialist for the American Cancer Society.
Sherry Grevenstuk, of DeMotte, spoke about finding a lump on her breast in 2009 and then her fight after being diagnosed with breast cancer.
Grevenstuk said her aunt died from the same condition in 1996 following a seven-year battle.
At first, she had a fear of dying but, with help from the support of her family along with her doctors and other medical staff, Grevenstuk is winning the fight.
"Her passing taught me how precious people and how precious life is," Grevenstuk said of her aunt.
Patty Hardin, 55, of Union Mills, said she came out to support her sister-in-law who had a double mastectomy just a week ago.
"She's doing really well. She's upbeat and feels good, really good about what's coming down the road, and we're all here to support her," Hardin said.
Most of the people participating in the walk wore pink shirts, a color that symbolizes the fight against breast cancer.
Jeanne Willis, 57, of Kouts, said she is a six-year survivor of breast cancer.
She had a lump removed followed by radiation and chemotherapy and "came back better than ever because I have a new appreciation for life," Willis said.
Support from family and prayer are very helpful in winning the battle, she said.
"That helped a tremendous amount," Willis said.
Tepe said it was the fourth annual Making Strides Against Breast Cancer walk in Valparaiso.
She said teams along with individuals who took part gathered pledges. More than $20,000 of the amount raised was given online, she said.
Ed Castle, of Hanna, said his niece and sister were both recently diagnosed with breast cancer and, after various medical procedures, are free of the cancer.
Another sister died of breast cancer several years ago.
‘‘Cancer affects us all and it devastates us," Castle said.