Raylene Gaines knows first-hand what it is like to see people she loves fight cancer. She has had several people in her life impacted, including her uncle, mother and best friend.
Her passion to help those she loves defeat the disease drives her to lead a team each year during the Making Strides Against Breast Cancer Walk, sponsored by the American Cancer Society. Her son, Shane, follows suit and raises his own funds to support the cause.
“There are so many people that I know that have been affected by cancer,” Gaines said. “I will probably never quit doing this because it just means so much to me.”
This year’s walk took place on Saturday, October 22, 2022, at Nathan Benderson Park in Sarasota. More than 245 teams raised $418,350 to assist the American Cancer Society with breast cancer research and services. Funds will continue to be raised throughout the rest of the calendar year.
The noncompetitive three-mile Walk is designed to heighten awareness about the risk of getting breast cancer and raise money to help the American Cancer Society. Funds collected also help women gain access to mammograms.
Gaines, who is the office manager at Charlene Neal PureStyle, lead a team sponsored by Neal Communities. The team, called Building Hope with Pink Pride, consisted of friends and employees of Neal Communities. While the team’s 40 members raised funds individually, Neal Communities also contributed $2,500 to the cause. This was the 12th year that Neal Communities sponsored a team. In total, the team raised $6,249.
“We are happy to support such a worthy cause in our community which raises funds to help with cancer research and provide needed services,” said Pat Neal, founder and chairman of Neal Communities.
For Gaines, Neal Communities’ continued support means a lot. She almost lost her own mother a few years ago to breast cancer. Thankfully, she said, her mother is now in remission.
Gaines said her son, Shane, walks each year to support his family and their battles against the disease. While his grandmother on his mother’s side survived, he lost his great grandmother on his father’s side to breast cancer. Gaines said Shane makes an extra special showing at the Walk, typically wearing outlandish pink clothing including a woman’s bra on the outside of his shirt, to show his support. She said it is always fun to see what Shane wears each year as he makes his walk.
“It’s just a great cause, and it is very pink,” she said – referring to the crowds of people who all wear pink as they walk. “It brings awareness. Just getting the word out in conversation about how prevalent breast cancer is and how much it affects us all is an incredibly important result of the Walk.”
For more information about the American Cancer Society’s Making Strides Against Breast Cancer Walk, visit www.MakingStridesWalk.org/SarasotaManatee.