Fergie, six-time Grammy Award winner and Avon spokesperson, was a special guest at the eighth annual Los Angeles-area Avon Walk for Breast Cancer in Santa Barbara, CA, on September 11-12.
The Avon Walk raised more than $6.4 million to advance access to care and breast cancer research, and attracted more than 2,800 participants from 45 states and Canada, including 322 breast cancer survivors. Other participants included Josh Duhamel, Spencer Pratt and Heidi Montag.
During the Avon Walk Santa Barbara, 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 the weekend. The event kicked off Saturday, September 11, with an early morning Opening Ceremony at Chase Palm Park. Following the ceremony, walkers began their journey through Santa Barbara. Walkers had the choice of walking a half or full marathon on Saturday through the Santa Barbara area, supported by an all-volunteer crew and cheered by family and supporters along the route. Walkers and crew spent the night at the “Wellness Village” at the Santa Barbara Polo and Racquet Club in Carpinteria, CA, which featured two-person sleeping tents, hot showers, prepared meals, entertainment, volunteer medical services and comprehensive support services, along with leisure activities such as relaxing yoga to stretch out their muscles, a spa zone with mini-back-and-foot-massages, and “tool school 101” demonstrations from sponsor Tomboy Tools. On Sunday, September 12, walkers completed their final 13.1 miles, and celebrated their achievement with Fergie at the Closing Ceremony at Carpinteria State Beach with thousands of family and friends.
To participate in the Avon Walk Santa Barbara, each walker raised a minimum of $1,800 in donations. The Avon Foundation for Women raises and manages funds, which are 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.
Fergie, a global ambassador for the Avon Foundation for Women, walked alongside walkers on the last leg of their weekend-long, 39.3-mile journey, boosting their spirits for the final stretch of the 13-mile route on Sunday. After crossing the finish line at Carpinteria State Beach on Sunday afternoon, Fergie congratulated the Avon Walk Santa Barbara’s top ten fund-raisers. She then joined the Walk participants’ family, friends and supporters at the inspirational Closing Ceremony to announce a total of more than $3 million in initial grants awarded to 12 organizations in Southern California.
“I had the chance to meet some of you out on the route today and hear stories of why you walk,” Fergie said at the Closing Ceremony. “I can only say – for me and my mom and father who are with me – thank you. Thank you for taking a stand and for walking an insane amount of miles to fight breast cancer. I’m sure you all know how much good the money you raised will do.”
In addition to Fergie, breast cancer survivor, Noelle Krejci, from Corona, CA, also took part in the Closing Ceremony, sharing her moving story of triumph over breast cancer and providing inspiration to the thousands of people present. Also joining Fergie on stage was Dr. Susan Love, a leader in the breast cancer movement for more than 30 years, who accepted a grant to advance the work of the Love/Avon Army of Women.
Avon Foundation President Carol Kurzig said, "We are delighted with the success of our Avon Walk Santa Barbara and with the funds we are able to award to the Southern California organizations leading the fight against breast cancer. This is a return to our Southern California roots since the very first long-distance breast cancer walk to benefit the Avon Foundation for Women took place here in 1998. We are especially privileged that Fergie joined us to make our return so memorable. In her solo career and as the female vocalist for the Black Eyed Peas, Fergie has risen to the top of the music world; but she’s a California girl and knows how important it is to help those in need."
Fergie presented 12 grants at the Closing Ceremony, dramatically demonstrating how the funds raised will immediately benefit the community. More grants are slated to be awarded throughout the year to breast cancer programs in California and nationwide.
The grants included:
- Project Angel Food received $125,000 to support meal delivery and nutritional counseling services for people fighting breast cancer and their families throughout Los Angeles County. CEO Margaret Steele accepted the grant.
- Six grants that will strengthen the Avon Safety Net program in Southern California. Avon Safety Net Grants fund a network of more than 100 hospitals and community clinics across the country supported by the Avon Foundation to ensure that women and men without insurance or resources have access to high quality breast health services.
- UCLA Foundation received $180,000 to support Avon Foundation breast imaging fellowships at the Iris Cantor Cancer Center for Breast Imaging and UCLA Santa Monica Women’s Imaging Centers. Dr. Larry Bassett, director of the Breast Imaging Fellowship Program, accepted the grant.
- UCLA Center of Integrative Oncology received a grant for $300,000 to manage a multi-institutional research study to determine if biomarkers found in breast fluid can accurately predict breast cancer risk and outcomes. Care Felix, senior research study coordinator, accepted the grant.
- John Wayne Cancer Institute received $300,000 to support a research study investigating the role of one biomarker in triple negative breast cancer. Dr. George Chwee accepted the grant.
- Dr. Susan Love Research Foundation received $740,000 to support the work of the Love/Avon Army of Women, which is changing the way breast cancer research is done by significantly reducing the time it takes to recruit research study volunteers and encouraging researchers to study the changes happening in healthy women before breast cancer develops to learn how to stop it. President and Founder Dr. Susan Love accepted the grant.
- The Avon Breast Cancer Center at the UCLA-Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center and Olive View Medical Center, one of eight flagship Avon Breast Centers nationwide, received $750,000 to support the Avon Cares For Life Program, which includes on-site patient navigation, survivorship programs, a high risk clinic and clinical trials. Program Manager Lori Viveros accepted the grant.