September 11, 2009

‘Weekend to End Breast Cancer’ is Sept. 26-27

Marian University President Daniel Elsener gets ready to take a horse ride on the Indianapolis campus this summer—part of his preparation to fulfill a promise he made to the university’s football players. Elsener told the team he would ride a horse and lead them onto the field when the university’s new sports stadium officially opens on Sept. 19. (Submitted photo)
By John Shaughnessy

As soon as she learned about the event, Loree Kaiser knew that her family had to be involved in the first-ever “The Weekend to End Breast Cancer.”

After all, her mother died of the disease.

So did one of her grandmothers.

Then there are the family members who have survived breast cancer—one of her sisters and three of her nieces.

With four generations of her family touched by the disease, Kaiser and 16 relatives have formed a team to join the thousands of women and men who are expected to participate in the two-day, fundraising event on Sept. 26-27 that is being organized by the St. Vincent Foundation.

In choosing the name for their team—Five Generations—Kaiser’s group remembered the heartbreak of the past and focused on their hope for the future.

“The reason we’re walking is to prevent the fifth generation from experiencing breast cancer,” says Kaiser, a Catholic from Carmel, Ind. “This is huge to us. Everyone on the team is related. It’s mothers, daughters, daughters-in-law, nieces, cousins and sisters.”

With the theme, “One Weekend Can Change the World,” the event hopes to move breast cancer research one step closer to finding a cure for the disease.

“One in eight women in Indiana will be diagnosed with breast cancer in their lifetime,” says Nancy Frick, the director of advancement for the St. Vincent Foundation. “The disease touches so many people’s lives. We thought this event would raise significant funds to help breast cancer patients in our community.”

Archbishop Daniel M. Buechlein is encouraging people to take part in the event.

“I hope that Catholics throughout central Indiana will take part in the St. Vincent Foundation’s Weekend to End Breast Cancer,” the archbishop said. “Nearly everyone has a family member or friend who has been diagnosed with breast cancer.”

The event is an unusual one on a few levels. Participants will walk a total of 38 miles during the weekend, splitting the distance between the two days. Each participant also has to raise $2,000. Another distinctive feature of “The Weekend to End Breast Cancer” is that the money raised will be used solely in central Indiana.

“We want to create a patient survivor program, purchase equipment and technology, and expand our clinical research so people can participate in the latest treatments that are available for breast cancer,” Frick says.

“We also want to create a fund for women and men who are uninsured and underinsured for treatment. When someone is diagnosed with breast cancer, there are often not funds for the treatment if they don’t have insurance or they’re underinsured. Some women have to go without treatment.”

Similar to Kaiser, Frick has a personal stake in the walk.

“In the past few weeks, I’ve had two friends who were diagnosed with breast cancer,” Frick says. “My daughter, who’s not yet 30, has a good friend who’s battling breast cancer. And she has two small children. Unfortunately, I don’t know anyone I’ve talked to who doesn’t know someone who has been affected by this disease.”

Kaiser’s life has been touched deeply by the disease. Her mother died when Kaiser was 20. One of her sisters has been a survivor of 17 years. She knows that walking 38 miles in a weekend will be a challenge for her, but she also knows it’s a minor one compared to the hard road that breast cancer patients face.

“We’ve all been training for this,” Kaiser says. “I’ve gone from walking a block when I first started to walking 12 miles. I know I can do this. I know I will do this. From watching my mother pass, and watching my sister go through breast cancer, and watching my nieces deal with the disease, this has become a very important issue for everyone in our family.”

The 17 members of the Five Generations team range in age from 27 to 57, Kaiser says. Four generations of the family will be involved in the walk.

“Being raised Catholic, and being the youngest of 11, we come from a close family,” Kaiser said. “But this has made us even closer. That weekend is going to be fabulous. And it’s an important thing we’ll be doing. I think it’s going to be very emotional and uplifting for all of us.”

(For more information or to sign up for “The Weekend to End Breast Cancer,” call 317-879-9255 or visit the Web site

Local site Links: