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Reese Witherspoon Helps Celebrate Avon Walk for Breast Cancer Washington, D.C. - Weekend-Long Event Raises $8.1 Million

Actress Joins Thousands of Participants in Inspirational Closing Ceremony;

Millions in New Grants Awarded to Local Breast Cancer Organizations

WASHINGTON, May 4 /PRNewswire/ -- Award-winning actress and Honorary Chair of the Avon Foundation Reese Witherspoon was a special guest at the sixth annual Avon Walk for Breast Cancer Washington, D.C. this weekend, cheering on and joining walkers on their second day and participating in the celebratory and inspirational Closing Ceremony. At the Ceremony, Reese joined the family, friends and supporters of 3,500 participants in celebrating $8.1 million raised for local, regional and national breast cancer organizations. The women and men in the weekend-long Avon Walk Washington, D.C. hailed from 40 states and included nearly 300 breast cancer survivors.



"I am very excited to be partnering with the Avon Foundation and to help them continue to affect real change," stated Reese. "I feel a great responsibility in my own life to give back to society. As the Honorary Chairman of the Avon Foundation, one of my first experiences last year was to meet Avon Walk walkers at a training walk in Los Angeles. Now I am proud to support the Avon Walk for Breast Cancer here in Washington, D.C. and hope my presence can in some measure express my deep appreciation for all the women and men who participate in the Avon Walks, and for all of the people who dedicate their lives to breast cancer research and care."

Prior to taking part in the Closing Ceremony Sunday afternoon, Reese stopped at the lunch stop at the 10-mile mark of the day's 13-mile route, where she helped keep the walkers' energy high by serving lunch to the excited walkers. She then made a special visit at the final rest stop of the day, joining walkers for the final stretch of the route.

During the Closing Ceremony, which took place at City Center Events Plaza, Reese and Carol Kurzig, Executive Director of the Avon Foundation, announced a total of $5,005,000 in initial grants awarded to organizations in the greater metro area, ensuring the funds raised immediately benefit the community. More grants are slated to be awarded throughout the year to breast cancer programs nationwide.

In addition to Reese and Carol, three walkers who are breast cancer survivors also took part in the Closing Ceremony: Debby Stewart, Deneise Little and Gerie Voss, all from Washington, D.C. All three shared their moving stories of triumph over breast cancer and provided inspiration to the thousands of people present. Gerie drew both tears and laughter when she noted that she had cheered herself up the day she was diagnosed with breast cancer by watching Reese in Legally Blonde.

"We are delighted with the success of the Avon Walk D.C. and with the funds we are able to return to the community, and we are especially thrilled that Reese joined us to make the event so memorable," said Carol Kurzig. "During the past year, Reese has been a champion for the Avon Foundation's commitment to women, and now she has lent her support to our Avon Walk participants in DC. We are excited that Reese has been able to meet in person the dedicated women and men who are raising funds, and the researchers and organizations that are using those funds to save lives."
The initial grants awarded at the Closing Ceremony include:

* The Translational Breast Cancer Research Consortium (Baltimore, MD)

received continued funding in the amount of $1,490,000 to support

the network of 14 universities and hospitals that can collectively

conduct clinical trials more rapidly than a single institution.

Currently, three Phase II clinical trials are investigating new

targets and treatments for triple negative breast cancer, a form of

breast cancer that does not respond well to current therapies. Dr.

Nancy Davidson, Director of Breast Cancer Services, Johns Hopkins

Medical Center, accepted the grant.

* Johns Hopkins Medical Center (Baltimore, MD) received a grant of

$1,250,000 to support two areas: cutting-edge breast cancer research

at the Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center at Johns Hopkins, a

NCI-Comprehensive Cancer Center recognized worldwide for excellence;

and outreach to the medically underserved through the Avon

Foundation Breast Center at Johns Hopkins, a comprehensive, multi

disciplinary breast care center offering a full spectrum of clinical

and support services. Patient navigator nurse and breast cancer

survivor Deb Stewart accepted the grant.

* Capital Breast Care Center (Washington, D.C.), which is run in

partnership by Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center of Georgetown

University, an NCI-designated comprehensive cancer center, and

Medstar Health, received a grant for $800,000 to support critical

safety net services to medically underserved women in the Washington

DC metropolitan area. The grant continues the Avon Foundation

commitment to reverse striking disparities in breast health care in

the DC area. Capital Breast Care Center Executive Director Amari

Sokoya Pearson-Fields accepted the grant.

* Adventist Health Care (Rockville, MD), a non-profit corporation and

parent company of a diversified healthcare system of hospitals, home

health agencies and other health care services, received a grant of

$500,000 to support the purchase of digital mammography equipment,

outreach, breast health education and patient navigation services at

both the Washington Adventist and Shady Grove Adventist Hospitals.

Debra Pollak, Executive Director, Cancer Care Services accepted the


* George Washington University (Washington, D.C.) received a grant of

$500,000 to support and expand services offered through their mobile

mammography program, which provides screening to both insured and

uninsured, underserved women through a "mammography van" equipped

with state-of-the-art digital equipment that travels to community

and corporate sites in the Washington, D.C. area. The new funding

will expand services to areas such as Anacostia, which has been

identified as the most medically underserved area in the District

and has no functional mammography facilities. Dr. John Williams,

Provost and Vice President for Health Affairs, George Washington

Medical Center, accepted the grant.

* University of Maryland Baltimore Foundation (Baltimore, MD) received

a grant of $420,000 to expand the Baltimore City Cancer Program's

(BCCP) patient navigation program to increase the number of women

screened and shorten the time between screening and treatment. The

BCCP is an initiative of the University of Maryland Marlene and

Stewart Greenebaum Cancer Center in partnership with the State of

Maryland, with a focus on eliminating cancer death through early

detection, diagnosis, treatment and education for Baltimore's

medically underserved. Dr. Stacy Garrett-Ray, Medical Director of

the Baltimore City Cancer Program, accepted the grant.

* Friends of Cancer Research (Arlington, VA) received a grant of

$45,000 to support a Breast Cancer Educational Symposium co-hosted

by Friends of Cancer Research and Howard University, targeting the

public and media to increase awareness and understanding of breast

cancer research. The symposium will focus on clinical research and

ongoing clinical trials in breast cancer and will help the public

and media to learn to translate scientific findings into useful

information and calls to action. Dr. Ellen Sigal, Chair, accepted

the award.

About the Avon Walk for Breast Cancer

During the Avon Walk D.C., which is a noncompetitive event, women and men had a choice of walking a marathon (26.2 miles) or a marathon and a half (39.3 miles) over Saturday and Sunday. The event kicked off Saturday, May 3, with an early morning Opening Ceremony at City Center Events Plaza. Following the Ceremony, walkers began their journey, traveling through the greater Washington, D.C. areas and concluding at the Avon Walk "Wellness Village" at Norwood Park, a "tent city" complete with two-person tents, hot showers, prepared meals, entertainment, and recreational activities such as the Reebok sneaker personalization station and the Fiji water pink carpet photo program. On Sunday, May 4, walkers completed their journey together with another 13.1 miles, ending back at City Center Events Plaza where they were greeted by thousands of family and friends who shared in the celebratory and moving Closing Ceremony.

To participate in the Avon Walk Washington, D.C., each walker raised a minimum of $1,800 in donations. Funds raised are managed and disbursed by the Avon Foundation [a 501(c)(3) public charity] and awarded to local, regional and national breast cancer organizations to support five areas of the breast cancer cause, including awareness and education, screening and diagnosis, access to treatment, support services, and scientific research, all with a focus on the medically underserved. Donations are still being accepted for the Avon Walk Washington, D.C., and registration is still open for women and men to take part in the remaining Walks of 2008: Boston, MA (May 17-18); Chicago, IL (May 31-June 1); Rocky Mountains, CO (June 28-29); San Francisco, CA (July 12-13); Los Angeles, CA (September 13-14); New York, NY (October 4-5); and Charlotte, NC (October 25-26). Already completed is the Avon Walk Houston (April 12-13).

To register, donate or for additional information, please visit or call 800-541-WALK.

The Avon Walk for Breast Cancer thanks National Sponsor: Reebok; Official Sponsors: Genentech BioOncology, Novartis Oncology and Prevention Magazine; and Official Water: FIJI

Remember: early detection can help save lives. Schedule your mammogram or clinical breast exam today. For more breast cancer information and resources, visit (keyword breast cancer) or, where you can access free printable breast cancer informational literature.

Event information: or call 888-541-WALK

SOURCE Avon Foundation
Copyright©2008 PR Newswire.
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