SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (wggb) – It’s a disease that knows no age, race or economic status, and it’s so prevalent that every one of us knows someone who’s been diagnosed or survived breast cancer. Today in Springfield and Greenfield, the Rays of Hope Walk celebrated them all.
Everyone had someone on their mind at the Rays of Hope Walk.
For Aisha Gonzalez, that person is also her role model.
“It’s all for my mom. She went through the struggle of stage three breast cancer, so I’m just here to support her,” she told us.
Thousands of women, men and children came out to support those who have been affected by breast cancer. Each year approximately 200,000 women receive the sobering diagnosis. Twenty-one years ago, Lucy Carvalho was one of those women.
“It was pretty devastating and it was definitely a life changing event,” she said.
It was that diagnosis that prompted her to create an event to bring positive energy to those battling the same disease, and thus, Rays of Hope was born.
Lucy says it’s an event that has helped her through, “I think that Rays of Hope has been an important part of my journey.”
Twenty years ago Lucy started this event with just 500 walkers. Now today, they are expecting 25-thousand.
“I don’t know if I thought it was going to be ever that big. but it’s really because the community embraced it,” Lucy said.
But that might be an understatement. Not only was there great music, food, face painting and merchandise of all kinds. But hand-knit scarves for survivors and musicians lining the walk, volunteering their time and entertaining the thousands of walkers looking to make a difference. Above all there was a party-like, electric atmosphere, celebrating the lives of those who may have been lost to breast cancer, and those who have defeated the odds by fighting, like a girl.
Aisha’s mom is one of those fighters, “She’s a 6 year survivor, she’s better than ever.”
And for Lucy it’s all due to the amazing people of Western Mass. “This is a great community, we live in a great community,” Lucy exclaimed.
Today’s Rays of Hope events in Springfield and Greenfield hosted 24,000 people and raised more that $750,000.