Tracy Arlotta comes out swingin’ to fight breast cancer at the 2022 Strides Walk.

Cancer sucks.

It is such an insidious beast, often lurking within until it’s too late. My mother passed away after a long fight against cancer in 1999; my father passed in 2016, 10 days after he was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer — something he originally thought was a minor stomach problem.

Very few lives are untouched by cancer. We all know someone who’s fought the good fight, and far too many have fought those battles, often at far too young an age. 

Brandi Card from Island Pilates is one of those who knew someone and watched as she struggled against breast cancer at a young age. When her friend Janell Lawrence was diagnosed, Brandi watched her go through all the stages of cancer treatments and their drastic side effects. She saw her friend go through hell in her pursuit of her cure. Janell was one of the lucky ones; she remains in remission to this day. Others aren’t so lucky.

Brandi, like so many others, wondered what she could do to help. While cancer is one of the most personal struggles one can face, a good support system can be so beneficial when friends and family are also involved in the fight. The American Cancer Society (ACS) recognizes the need for support and helps provide it to strugglers and their support network — while also working with local efforts to raise awareness.

That’s why, for the past several years, Brandi’s business, Island Pilates, has sponsored a team in the Strides Walk for Making Strides Against Breast Cancer in the Florida Keys. You may be aware of the Strides Walk and may have noticed in the past all the walkers decked out in pink as they marched alongside U.S. 1 in Marathon. Organizers like Suzi Curry, Charlotte Quinn, Trich Worthington, Shayne Messina and more dedicate themselves every year to making this walk possible. Raising awareness of breast cancer is a major goal — but equally important are recognizing caregivers and celebrating survivors while remembering those who have passed on.

Teams often get together before the walk to coordinate matching pink outfits and do their own fundraising events. Brandi hosted a sarong tie-dyeing party for her Island Pilates team that also served as a fundraiser. People of all ages brought all sorts of garments (not just sarongs) for a festive tie-dye party. I’m certain many of these will be on display at the walk.

Photos by Alex Rickert and Patti Childress

Brandi’s team is but one of many sponsored teams participating in the walk. There are also Suzi’s Pink Flamingos, Time Out for TaTas, Team Crane, BPW Upper Keys, and the Marathon Moose Lodge. The walk is this Saturday morning, and you are most certainly invited. While there may not be enough time to start a new team, please come walk. It’s easy to join a team already in existence and show your support. 

The Making Strides Walk benefits the American Cancer Society, the non-profit leader in the fight against breast cancer. There is a cool Making Strides Against Breast Cancer of the Florida Keys page on Facebook; if you can’t make the walk, they have a scannable QR code that will lead you to a donation page.

But it would really be great if you were able to make it in person and show your support. Event organizers have promised a wonderful program, and the walk is a great way to show your commitment to a better future while having a good time with your friends and neighbors. The walk starts at 8 a.m. this Saturday, Oct. 14 at Crane Point Hammock. Gates at Crane Point will open at 7:20 a.m., and plenty of parking is available at Crane Point, Gulfside Village or the Winn-Dixie Plaza across the highway. 

Researchers still dedicate themselves to finding a cure for cancer, and there have been major advances in treatment. Still, the fight is far from over. Come on out this Saturday and help the ACS raise funds for a cure and provide ongoing resources for cancer patients while raising awareness of breast cancer in our community.

Saturday, Oct. 148 a.m. at Crane Point Museum and Nature Center – NEW LOCATION

Very few towns or cities could ever claim that their Mayor was a smokin' hot guitar player. The island city of Marathon in the Florida Keys is one of those towns. While politics is a temporary call to service, music is a life sentence. John Bartus, a more-than-four-decade full-time professional musician, singer, and songwriter, continues to raise the bar with his groundbreaking solo acoustic show. It’s easy to catch John on one of his more than 200 shows a year throughout the Keys on his Perpetual Island Tour. His CD releases include After The Storm, Keys Disease 10th Anniversary Remaster, and Live From the Florida Keys Vol. 2. John’s music is available wherever you download or stream your music.