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UFTers did it again and in style. Under blue skies and bright sunshine, thousands proudly walked in the annual Making Strides Against Breast Cancer Walk on Oct. 16 carrying the blue-and-white UFT banner in all five boroughs plus Jones Beach. The participation of 1,000 UFT members in the Bronx — 400 more than last year — was a tribute to Annette Carlucci, a former high school teacher, chapter leader and high school representative who died from breast cancer during the summer.
Bronx march coordinator Nanette Sanchez-Rosario said that while the turnout was “amazing and incredible, it was also bittersweet.”
“You always feel the energy at the Strides march, but there was just more of it this year,” she added.
Although contributions are still being tallied, the Bronx reports $35,000 and Manhattan $27,000 so far, figures that Servia Silva, the chair of the Making Strides walk, said demonstrate the union’s commitment to the cause.
UFT President Michael Mulgrew, who marched with members in Central Park, noted that this year’s march is the 10th year in which the union has participated.
Chapter Leader Lisa Wilson of PS 75 in Manhattan reported a contingent of 50 staff, family and friends from her school, up from 30 last year and five before that “because we care a lot.”
Any conversation with a marcher usually reveals a family or friendship connection to a cancer victim or survivor. That was true of the group from IS 52 in Inwood, which included survivor Donna Weinstein and Elana Waldman, who is currently battling cancer and “taking it one day at a time.” They were supported by colleagues and Assistant Principal Luis Tejada.
Walking in Prospect Park for her mother, Nereida Ramos of PS 376 said, “Once you choose hope, anything is possible.”
At 88, UFT retiree Grace Salant walks the walk each year because “I’m able to and because I want to do something to create an awareness.”
Braving gusty winds on the boardwalk at Jones Beach, parent Lavern McPherson credited Queens PS 176 organizer Michelle Liotta, a survivor, for getting everyone involved “because it’s a great cause.”
Amy Silverstein of the UFT Peer Intervention Program said she was heartened by the steady increase each year in the number of pink survivor ribbons among the marchers. “We’ve made strides but we need to eradicate breast cancer for good,” she added.
UFTers walked with NYSUT locals across the state to support the American Cancer Society’s breast cancer research, advocacy and patient services.