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On the Road to Fight Women's Cancer

by Kevin Brown  |  March 21, 2016

On the Road to Fight Women's Cancer Almost as many family pets as members joined in last year’s walk. (Photo by Kevin Brown)

AFSCME Council 18 and its local unions have raised funds annually since 2011 to contribute to the important work of the Foundation for Women’s Cancer. Last year, AFSCME members, staff and allied organizations raised $4,010, the largest amount raised to date. Now participants are adding a personal touch to the fight against cancer by bringing out their family members and sharing their stories.

The annual walk is always held the first Sunday in November, in conjunction with the Foundation’s walk in Washington, DC. During the most recent walk, along the picturesque Bosque de Albuquerque hiking trail, almost as many family pets as members joined in, a development that cheers organizer Annette Mata.

“It’s a fantastic experience and very encouraging to see the progress we’ve made over the last five years,” said Mata, an abstractor for the Albuquerque Water Utility Authority and AFSCME Council 18 Women’s Committee member.

Cancer affects more than 14.4 million people in the United States. Mata felt the urge to join the fight against cancer when some of her close friends and family members began to suffer from the disease. Her urge grew even stronger when she was diagnosed with endometrial cancer eight years ago — at 47 years old. At the time she was a personal caregiver for a friend suffering from cancer.

“It [being diagnosed with cancer] only made me want to fight harder. I never thought about giving up. The support system my friends and I have built gives me hope to some day find a cure,” said Mata. “Our goal is to get more people involved and educated about the disease before it reaches their family in a tragic way.”

Since Mata began her quest in 2011, the local effort gained more momentum and increased fundraising each year. This year, participants are auctioning a handmade quilt and the iconic pink pins for donations for the cause. Additionally, Mata has seen even more enthusiasm around CHANGE IT, which encourages co-workers to save their change over the course of the year — which the winner receives a gift card.

The efforts and increased comradery of this group of dedicated volunteers hasn’t gone unnoticed. The national Foundation of Women’s Cancer personally extended an invitation to Mata to share her strategies with other local groups as a shining example of how to grow their efforts.

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