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Belle Vernon pub crawl will help fight breast cancer

More than 300 women and a handful of men are expected to participate in a “Belle Vernon Pub Crawl” for a cause on Saturday.

Hopefully, they'll be walking upright, not crawling, after visiting 10 local bars and clubs, quaffing brewskis and maybe gulping a Jell-O shot or two.

But they won't be drinking and driving. And local police have agreed to assist them in crossing streets.

Many participants are teetotalers anyhow.

Moreover, they've been doing this safely for a while, with little fanfare and word-of-mouth advertising, growing in numbers from 18 women who raised $385 in 2000 to 315 participants who raised more than $11,000 last year.

Proceeds from the Belle Vernon Pub Crawl go to the Pittsburgh Chapter of the American Cancer Society.

The “pink movement” has caught on across the U.S., engaging pro footballers to Girl Scouts and extending to events such as “Dirty Girl Mud Runs” and NASCAR racing.

Last Saturday, the 9th annual Lois Orange Ducoeur Breast Cancer Walk took place in Charleroi, the Mid-Mon Valley's other major fundraising event to fight breast cancer.

TEAM Charleroi and co-sponsor Mon Valley Regional Chamber of Commerce ran out of sandwiches when an unexpected 350-plus people showed up.

“The turnout was awesome,” said Donna Angelo, event co-chair.

“It's gotten too big for us, so Mon Valley Hospital will run it starting next year.”

Money from the Charleroi event benefits the Pennsylvania Breast Cancer Coalition as well as residents treated at the hospital's cancer center.

Unless you've been living in a cave, you know this month has become as widely known for National Breast Cancer Awareness as it has been for Halloween.

One in eight women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in her lifetime, making it the most common form of cancer in women.

That breast cancer is the second leading cause of death among women is just as scary.

More than 220,000 women (and 2,200 men) are diagnosed with it each year. More than 40,000 die.

There's some comfort in the fact that greater attention and support are bringing better education, early intervention, free mammograms, improved care and more research.

Two spirited acquaintances of mine have suffered with breast cancer in recent years.

One, in her 40s, has fully recovered after months of chemo, surgery and rehabilitation. The other woman, in her early 80s, died last month after a valiant fight.

Surely you know of similar tales involving family or friends.

The Belle Vernon Pub Crawl was conceived by Debbie Cashman Miller, who operates a beauty salon in North Belle Vernon, after watching young women parading in a for-fun “bar crawl” along East Carson Street on Pittsburgh's South Side.

She figured there were enough bars and clubs in her town and in proximity to do the same thing until her husband, Shane, wisely advised, “You can't have a bunch of women walking along Broad Avenue without a worthy cause.”

As they say, the rest is history.

The crawl starts with a $20 donation/registration (still open), noon to 1 p.m. at the Russian Club near Pricedale.

It ends there, too, hours later, with a “victory party,” snacks and, if necessary, drivers to escort people home.

Participants will visit most if not all of the following: Belle Vernon Musical Society, Foster House, Just-a-Tavern, Wide Glides, Frosty Muggs, American Legion Post 659, Russ's Tavern, Loyal Order of Moose and Hungarian Club.

Some of the participating taverns do special things, such as providing food or donating money.

T-shirts of years past have teased with sayings like “Save them all, big and small.”

“Waves of pink flood the streets,” said Susan Raymond, an event promoter.

“It's a day when attitudes and drama are left at the doorstep.

“Everyone bonds to do their part to find a cure for this terrible disease.”

The sooner, the better.

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Mon Valley Hospital is sponsoring a breast cancer education and screening program at 1 p.m. Oct. 31, offering breast exams and featuring two physicians to discuss detection and treatment. It's free but you must register at 724-258-1333.

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Thought du jour – A feel a day keeps the doctor away.

Joe Grata is a freelance writer for Trib Total Media.


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