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‘She called herself a warrior’: Concord’s annual Making Strides walk draws hundreds

  • Kayla St. Louis of Hudson (right) and her best friend Manda Lavery get ready to lead the Survivor™s Walk at the Making Strides Breast Cancer Walk at Memorial Field on Sunday. Not only was St. Louis one of the youngest survivors at 29, but Lavery helped her team raise more than $15,000 alone. This year the event raised $371,221 according to Kathi Russ, Making Strides Against Breast Cancer volunteer and board member of the American Cancer Society in New England. Russ wants to raise over $1 million in the coming years now that the event has been centralized in Concord from all over the state of New Hampshire. GEOFF FORESTER / Monitor staff

  • Kayla St. Louis of Hudson (right) and her best friend Manda Lavery get ready to lead the Survivor’s Walk at the Making Strides Breast Cancer Walk at Memorial Field on Sunday, October 17, 2021. Not only was St. Louis one of the youngest survivors at 29, but Lavery helped her team raise more than $15,000 alone. This year the event raised $371,221 according to Kathi Russ, Making Strides Against Breast Cancer volunteer and board member of the American Cancer Society in New England. Russ wants to raise over $1 million in the coming years now that the event has been centralized in Concord from all over the state of New Hampshire. GEOFF FORESTER—Monitor staff

  • One of the many tee shirts at the Making Strides event at Memorial Field in Concord on Sunday, October 17, 2021. GEOFF FORESTER—Monitor staff

  • Kayla St. Louis of Hudson holds up the Survivor’s Walk flag as she and her best friend Manda Lavery gives her a hug as they walk toward the podium at the Making Strides Breast Cancer Walk at Memorial Field on Sunday, October 17, 2021. Not only was St. Louis one of the youngest survivors at 29, but Lavery helped her team raise more than $15,000 alone. This year the event raised $371,221 according to Kathi Russ, Making Strides Against Breast Cancer volunteer and board member of the American Cancer Society in New England. Russ wants to raise over $1 million in the coming years now that the event has been centralized in Concord from all over the state of New Hampshire. GEOFF FORESTER—Monitor staff

  • Kayla St. Louis of Hudson (right) and her best friend Manda Lavery get ready to lead the Survivor’s Walk at the Making Strides Breast Cancer Walk at Memorial Field on Sunday, October 17, 2021. Not only was St. Louis one of the youngest survivors at 29, but Lavery helped her team raise more than $15,000 alone. This year the event raised $371,221 according to Kathi Russ, Making Strides Against Breast Cancer volunteer and board member of the American Cancer Society in New England. Russ wants to raise over $1 million in the coming years now that the event has been centralized in Concord from all over the state of New Hampshire. GEOFF FORESTER—Monitor staff

  • Kayla St. Louis of Hudson holds up the Survivor’€™s Walk flag as she and her best friend Manda Lavery watch the other survivors walk toward the podium at the Making Strides Breast Cancer Walk at Memorial Field on Sunday, October 17, 2021. Not only was St. Louis one of the youngest survivors at 29, but Lavery helped her team raise more than $15,000 alone. This year the event raised $371,221 according to Kathi Russ, Making Strides Against Breast Cancer volunteer and board member of the American Cancer Society in New England. Russ wants to raise over $1 million in the coming years now that the event has been centralized in Concord from all over the state of New Hampshire. GEOFF FORESTER—Monitor staff

  • Hannah Macon hugs her mother and breast cancer survivor Cathy Mullins at the Survivors tent before the Making Strides Walk in Concord on Sunday, October 17, 2021. GEOFF FORESTER—Monitor staff

  • Hannah Macon hugs her mother and breast cancer survivor Cathy Mullins at the Survivors tent before the Making Strides Walk in Concord on Sunday, October 17, 2021. GEOFF FORESTER—Monitor staff

  • Survivor Patty Regan of Hudson holds her dog Bailey at the Making Strides Walk in Concord on Sunday. GEOFF FORESTER / Monitor staff

  • Kayla St. Louis of Hudson (right) and her best friend Manda Lavery bow in a moment of silence for those affected by all cancers as they get ready to lead the Survivor’s Walk at the Making Strides Breast Cancer Walk at Memorial Field on Sunday, October 17, 2021. Not only was St. Louis one of the youngest survivors at 29, but Lavery helped her team raise more than $15,000 alone. This year the event raised $371,221 according to Kathi Russ who wants to raise over $1 million in the future now that the event has been centralized in Concord from all over the state of New Hampshire. GEOFF FORESTER—Monitor staff

  • Melanie Foster of Concord kisses her daughter, Clare, at the Making Strides Walk in Concord on Sunday. GEOFF FORESTER / Monitor staff

  • LEFT: Making Strides Against Breast Cancer walkers make their way up Clinton Street in Concord on Sunday, October 17, 2021. The event raised $371,221 this year.

  • Making Strides Against Breast Cancer walkers make their way up Clinton Street in Concord on Sunday, October 17, 2021. The event raised $371,221 this year. BEN DOMAINGUE—Monitor staff

  • Making Strides Against Breast Cancer walkers make their way up Clinton Street in Concord on Sunday, October 17, 2021. The event raised $371,221 this year. BEN DOMAINGUE—Monitor staff

  • Making Strides Against Breast Cancer walkers make their way up Clinton Street in Concord on Sunday. The event raised $371,221 this year. BEN DOMAINGUE / Monitor staff

Monitor staff
Published: 10/17/2021 7:33:30 PM

Four years ago, Pembroke Academy junior Grace Simmons lost her grandmother to breast cancer. On Sunday, she took an active role in stopping the disease.

“She was like my best friend,” said Simmons. “She didn’t call herself a survivor, she called herself a warrior.”

Simmons, along with her sister Lauren, began the Pembroke YOUnited team, allowing her friends and family to get involved with the Making Strides Against Breast Cancer walk in Concord.

“I wanted to be able to stop other people from going through what my family went through,” said Simmons. “It really united us as a group.”

In a showing of solidarity with survivors and their families, hundreds of walkers participated in the annual march at Memorial Field in Concord.

Cyndey Dodge, event co-chair of Making Strides, began her involvement over 20 years ago after losing her sister to breast cancer.

When Dodge began her involvement, Making Strides had about 200 participants. On Sunday, the numbers included over 1,000 survivors, family members and their supporters. The increase in participation has left Dodge with a mix of emotions.

Back when just a couple hundred people participated in the event, Dodge wondered if few people were aware of the toll the disease took.

“Maybe back then we didn’t have enough awareness,” Dodge said. “I appreciate the hope that today brings for everybody, that they’re not alone.”

According to data provided by Louise Santosusso, vice president of the American Cancer Society, volunteers exceeded their fundraising goal by over $60,000 in 2021.

“Around the country, because of the pandemic we’re seeing about a third of the fundraising we’ve been seeing,” said Santosusso. “For you to exceed your goal is remarkable.”

Kayla St. Louis of Hudson and her friend, Amanda Lavery, raised the most money for the Making Strides event at over $15,000.

Due to the amount of money raised, New Hampshire is approaching one of the top 10 event’s for breast cancer awareness in the nation, according to Santosusso.

After the precession, survivors were honored with an annual Survivor’s Walk, where breast cancer survivors marched a short distance, before beginning the march through Concord.

Participants walked a 5-mile loop from Memorial Field. A shorter 2½-mile route was available through the city’s Langley Survivor Way.




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