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Thousands walk, thousands more cheer for breast cancer survivors in Perrysburg

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Thousands of people begin the walk to fund breast cancer research and services.

The Blade/Jetta Fraser
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Breast-cancer survivors who endured chemotherapy, pain, and suffering were cheered on by thousands today and even danced to the song "Happy" at the Town Center at Levis Commons in Perrysburg.

It was a celebration with donation opportunities at the eighth annual Making Strides Against Breast Cancer five-kilometer walk that had a survivor strut beforehand. About 50 survivors walked through with signs proclaiming how many years each had beaten breast cancer.

"It is good to see so many people come together for the cause to find a cure, and I know we will," said Yvonne Nasedi, a survivor for eight years and nine months from Toledo. "It is a joy to see all these people."

About 4,500 walkers participated, said Casey Pogan, Levis Commons' marketing director. While trying to make a video of the survivors dancing, she said, she couldn't help but tear up -- which she does every year.

"It is awesome," she said. "Everyone's eyes are swelling with tears, but also smiling."

Besides the free walk, events included a $10 breakfast, photo booths, raffles, and donation buckets to raise money for the American Cancer Society. Ms. Pogan said organizers hoped to raise $126,000 for the charity.

Anne Creech of Holland, who has lost three relatives to cancer in the past four months and has survived three bouts with cancer herself over 30 years, worked an educational tent during the walk. She encouraged others to sign a banner being sent to Washington to promote more funding for the American Cancer Society.

"I wish we didn't have this walk," Ms. Creech said about finding a cure, which she hoped would help keep her four children from sharing her travails.

Seeing survivors proudly strut in victory over cancer "very heartwarming, and heart wrenching," said Karen Craig, a survivor from Toledo.

Along the walk's looping route on Levis Commons Boulevard were twirlers, dancers, and even the Perrysburg High School marching band to encourage participants. Most the walkers wore pink in support too, making it a bright morning.

Julie Flannagan of Oregon, who is on her third cancer-free year, stressed to the crowd about working on preventing and getting more information on breast cancer. While she had no family cancer history, she was diagnosed when she was 33. 

"I'm so fortunate it was caught early for me," she said. "The American Cancer Society educated me and gave me support."

Contact Matt Thompson at: mthompson@theblade.com, 419-356-8786, or on Twitter at @mthompson25.
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