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Hope never dies

By Briana Smith (Special to the Chronicle)  Dina Viskoc, a survivor walking at Jones Beach on Saturday, posed with her family, donning pink mustaches for breast cancer awareness. Photo by Briana Smith.

Dina Viskoc, a 42-year old from Farmingdale, was diagnosed with cancer two years ago after she went to get her yearly mammogram. She and her family flaunted their glued-on pink moustaches and proudly wore their handmade “Team Dina” shirts in support of Viskoc: breast cancer survivor. Over 60,000 participants flooded the Jones Beach boardwalk on Sunday for the 2013 Making Strides Against Breast Cancer walk, according to Newsday. Breast cancer victims, survivors and those supporting the cause walked the five-mile boardwalk from 8 to 11 a.m., wearing all pink and carrying slogans saying, “Finish the Fight.” Hofstra students and faculty raised $7,500 for breast cancer research. There were 20 teams comprised of over 300 students and faculty who attended the walk. Keira Howe, a sophomore psychology major, participated in the walk with her sorority Delta Gamma. “I did the walk with my sorority as a way to help our community,” said Howe. “Not only does the walk allow patients to physically see how much support they have, but it also provides patients’ families and friends with comfort as well.” Howe and her 38 sorority sisters raised nearly $750 through collective fundraising. The Office of Student Leadership and Activities (OSLA) team returned to walk for their fifth year in a row. OSLA creates a team each year for students who are not involved in organizations and want to participate in the walk. Ashley Gray, assistant director of OSLA, has walked on OSLA’s team for five years in honor of her grandmother who had breast cancer. She is pleased that the group is supporting breast cancer research on Long Island. “Our office actually began by walking in the NYC Central Park walk but we moved to the Jones Beach walk about three years ago when we decided we wanted to focus on helping our local Long Island community,” Gray said. The walkers’ happiness, cheers and positivity consumed the boardwalk from start to finish. Before the walk back, everyone approached a memorial wall that was filled with pictures, names and signs in honor of cancer patients. “Seeing the names of women who died breaks my heart, but I think it encourages people even more to not give up and find a cure,” Howe said. Since 1993, nearly 8 million walkers raised more than $460 million, according to Making Strides American Cancer Society. Twenty years later, Making Strides has hosted 270 walks nationwide with even more supporters, volunteers and donations. This year, the participants in the Jones Beach walk raised $3.15 million. The money goes towards breast cancer screenings, mammograms, support groups, lodges and treatments. In 2011, Hofstra’s Discovery Program, which offers students a variety of interactive experiences, volunteered at the American Cancer Society’s Hope Lodge where out-of-state cancer patients can stay for free if they are obtaining treatment in NYC. “This is only made possible by the fundraising efforts of everyone during events like these walks,” Gray said. The vast amount of donations allows the American Cancer Society to save more than 400 lives a day. According to the National Cancer Institute, going for a screening mammogram every one to two years reduces the death rates for women with breast cancer between the ages of 40 and 70. “I have four daughters,” Viskoc said. “Hopefully by the time they grow up we can find a cure.”

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