BERLIN — Lit votive candles in hand, more than 100 people gathered at the Berlin Farmers Market parking lot Friday to participate in the group’s annual candlelight ceremony and walk.
Some of those participating in the vigil had survived breast cancer and some were the friends and family members of survivors, but many were walking in memory of those who had not survived the disease.
As an event to raise awareness as much as to celebrate victories and mourn losses, the ceremony succeeded in bringing attention to the walkers’ cause by drawing the eyes of the Second Friday Art Stroll attendees not already involved with the effort.
Many participants were dressed in pink and they interspersed among the others in a way that, combined with the votives, the dusk light, the pink-ribboned street posts and window dressings in the down town, made for a striking visual.
The route ended at the Atlantic Hotel courtyard, where walkers took their places either on the hotel’s porch, which had been set up as a kind of stage, or in the courtyard as part of the audience. By this time, attendance swelled well beyond the original group to include people who had followed the march downtown, those who had already gathered near the hotel, and those drawn from other parts of the downtown at the sight of the marchers. All had gathered to hear speakers recognize the good work of the group and to celebrate the lives of those who had and those who were still struggling against the disease.
Mayor Gee Williams thanked the attendees for their presence and their volunteerism and fundraising that allowed the growth of the Women Supporting Women network in the region.
Women Supporting Women makes it its business to help people at every stage of their battles with and recovery from breast cancer. From providing support groups, to chemotherapy wigs, to just listening and helping people find their way through the process, Women Supporting Women has made fighting breast cancer just a little more bearable for those who have to go through it.
Williams spoke about how nice it was to have the organization in Berlin, where the women of Worcester County could have better access to its programs and recalled a time when victims would have to drive into Salisbury. He challenged everyone present to take the opportunity to rededicate themselves to the local chapter.
“Less than 20 years ago, I didn’t know any breast cancer survivors,” he said. “I knew people who had lost their lives. Now I know plenty of survivors.”
Williams looked forward to the day when the disease is non-life threatening.
After a brief musical interlude provided by the Delmarva Chorus, Women Supporting Women recognized some of the standouts in their highly committed volunteer ranks.
Among them were Debbie and Steve Frene from Victorian Charm in Berlin whose business raised $1,160 as part of their Shop for a Cure Fundraiser held last week.
The winners of the bra-decorating contest, which took place earlier in the month at Bruder Hill, were announced in five categories:
People’s Choice for Business – "Fun & Fabulous" By Angela Houck of The Pole Power Studio.
People’s Choice for Individual –"Hope Grows" by Brandi Mellinger.
Best Title for the Design – "Hold on to Your Jewels" by Carol Holland of Ocean City Softball.
Best Design – "Hope Rising" by Mikey Maier.
Most Inspirational – "Live Like You Were Dying" by Lisa Mitchell. This was a fifth award added on to honor Mitchell, a survivor whose bra depicted her personal story.