Sandy Springs-based nonprofit It’s The Journey Inc. is making that message clear leading up to its 11th annual 2-Day Walk for Breast Cancer to carry on the legacy of its founder Randi Passoff, who died in 2010 after battling the disease for 15 years.
“We work on her vision every single day,” said Kim Goff, executive director of the organization. “She’s the person that created the idea for what I like to call the kinder, gentler breast cancer walk.”
In an adaptation of the 3-Day Walk, formerly hosted by Avon and now sponsored each year by the Susan G. Komen Foundation, the 2-Day Walk differs in that it is 30 miles rather than 60 miles, participants stay overnight at the Atlanta Marriott Marquis as opposed to tents and teams can work together to raise money.
“We just want it to be something for everybody,” Goff said. “We’re not trying to be exclusive. We’re trying to be inclusive. There are lots of ways for folks to be part of what we do from working crew, volunteering or walking in the survivor lap.”
Founding executive board member Laurel Sybilrud is the only participant who has walked every year since the 2-Day’s inception. The Dunwoody resident, who lost her mother to metastatic breast cancer at age 78, said after meeting Passoff during training for another walk, Passoff’s enthusiasm and desire to create a more accessible alternative to promote breast cancer awareness is what got her on board.
“Randi was a spunky woman full of ideas,” she said. “When it was thought that there would be no Avon Walk [in 2002], Randi said, ‘No, we’re gonna have something. We can’t let them down.’”
Sybilrud said she thinks Passoff would be pleased to see the 2-Day has raised more than $9 million over the years for breast health programs both in metro Atlanta and spanning the state.
“Randi knew there were other areas [in Georgia] that don’t get a lot of funding,” she said. “I think that it has been very rewarding to see her dream continue.”
All of the money raised is distributed to about 20 Georgia organizations focusing on breast cancer education and various survivor programs.
“Aside from the walk, the most satisfying part of my job is seeing where the need is and determining how much of that we can meet,” Goff said.
More than 740 walkers are signed up so far, but Goff said she hopes to have at least 800 walkers to be able to raise more than $800,000. Last year, about $790,000 in walker donations was brought in, she said.
Sybilrud said new walkers need not worry about Band-Aids or blister block, but should make sure to bring a pack of tissues.
“The stories that people that walk have to tell — some men, some very young women — will bring you to tears,” she said. “Lots of walkers have the names of a friend, family member or loved ones on their shirts.”
Though breast cancer is an incredible challenge for many, Goff said, the focus of the 2-Day is on celebrating life.
“It’s an amazing way to spend your weekend: full of sunshine and with hundreds of your soon-to-be closest friends,” Goff said. “Yes, your feet may be tired, but your heart will be full.”
If you go:
What: Atlanta 2-Day Walk for Breast Cancer
When: Saturday at 6 a.m. to Sunday at 1:30 p.m. Participants can walk one or both days.
Where: Starts at Marriott Marquis and ends in Atlantic Station.
Cost: 2-Day walkers $150 registration and $1,000 fundraising minimum to include hotel stay, T-shirt and meals throughout the weekend; cost varies for teens and one-day walkers.
Information: (404) 531-4111 or email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.itsthejourney.org.