As an avid walker, Jilly Yimek constantly combs websites and the newspaper calendars for events where she can strut her stuff for a stronger body and healthier heart. She didn’t realize she was also getting a stronger sense of community and self along with leaner muscles.
“I lost over 35 pounds two years ago just by walking every day and eating better,” the 47-year-old office manager said. “Going to events around the city kept me motivated. But the people you meet at these events, they are inspiring.”
At the top of her annual event list is American Cancer Society’s Making Strides Against Breast Cancer, a 5K (3.1-mile) walk that gathers breast cancer survivors and supporters for a rousing rally to fight the deadly disease. According to the American Cancer Society Cancer Facts &Figures 2015, an estimated 1,690 women in Nevada will be diagnosed with breast cancer and an estimated 380 will die from the disease this year.
“Making Strides is one of my favorites because of the people,” Yimek said. “My God, it is so uplifting. You are on a high for days, and not just from the workout.”
Making Strides Against Breast Cancer’s local event is Sunday at Red Rock Resort, with more than 20,000 breast cancer survivors, family members, caregivers, advocates and fundraisers, such as Yimek, expected to come together in support of each other, the community and the ongoing fight against breast cancer.
More than 1 million participants across the country participate in the American Cancer Society’s Making Strides Against Breast Cancer that helps to raise funds for groundbreaking breast cancer research, life-saving education and critical patient services. The event has raised more than $750 million nationwide since its inception in 1993. In Las Vegas, Making Strides raised more than $700,000 last year, mainly due to its sponsors.
“Sponsors are a vital part of our event,” said Nick Bressler, community manager for Making Strides Against Breast Cancer. “Through their efforts in engaging their employees and their reach in the communities, their help allows us to further our mission to end all cancers.”
Sponsors from around the valley include Caesars Entertainment, Tropicana Las Vegas and Molly’s Gaming and Spirits.
“Molly’s has been a strong supporter of the Making Strides Walk in Las Vegas,” he said. “Crystal McCann of Molly’s has really spearheaded their efforts and helped bring awareness of breast cancer to the Las Vegas community.”
Becoming a part of Making Strides three years ago was an easy decision for the longtime local casino business, said McCann, Molly’s general manager. The two-time cancer survivor was moved by the event’s extensive local immersion.
“We chose Making Strides because they give back locally,” the native Nevadan said. “I really liked what they were doing with the money because it doesn’t just go into a (national) pool. Making Strides gives back to the people here in Las Vegas and that is Molly’s main purpose, too. It’s good to know they are matching and really helping people locally.”
Her original cancer diagnosis came when she was living in California for a brief period. She drove hours for specialized treatment. She often felt isolated and alone during her bouts with cancer.
“That’s why it is so important to me,” McCann said. “Making Strides helps people where it counts. Whether it’s a ride, help with treatment, just to go and get your nails done or a wig fitted to your head. I didn’t have that support so I understand how important it is to have that in place for someone. It helps so much with your overall recovery. Those little things can really lift you up.”
The walk itself is uplifting as well.
“The turnout last year was amazing,” she said. “We had survivors and people going to treatment, and it felt so good to be a part of Making Strides. It means something and you can see that in the people walking, talking and hugging. I’ve been there so I know.”
Molly’s, owned by fifth-generation Nevadans, has raised more than $30,000 for the walk so far this year
“It’s an event you will feel so good at,” McCann said. “You don’t have to have cancer or be affected by cancer to get a lot out of the event.”
Sign up as an individual or team at MakingStridesWalk .org/LasVegasNV. Fundraising is ongoing for the Sunday event. Onsite registration for this noncompetitive, inspirational event begins at 7:30 a.m., and the walk is set to start at 8:30 a.m.