American Cancer Society’s annual Strides Walk in Marathon is a big deal. Every year, hundreds of supporters come out in pink, if not a wild costume, to raise funds for the ACS and raise awareness about breast cancer.

COVID-19 has done it’s best to ruin all that, but it is no match for the creative minds of the Florida Keys.

Strides Walk is out in 2020, and Drive Strides is in. The car parade is set for Saturday, Oct. 24 at 8 a.m. Parade formation begins an hour earlier.

“Because of the pandemic, we can’t have our traditional Strides Walk this year,” said Shayne Messina, the event chairperson. “But Marathon is still passionate about supporting American Cancer Society and Making Strides Against Breast Cancer, so we had to get creative. We though of a parade, and when longtime supporter Charlotte Quinn coined the term ‘Drive Strides,’ we knew we had a plan for 2020.”

Participants will line in their cars at Marathon High School and make a loop of Sombrero Beach Road. Cars will be decorated and no doubt their occupants will have on the same fun costumes.

Strides Walk is, of course, a fundraiser. Drive Strides is, too. Like in years past, members of the committee are forming teams. There’s still time to form a new team, or join an existing one, or donate regardless.

“We’re still fundraising. Our tag line this year is ‘Cancer doesn’t stop, so neither can we,’” said Suzi Youngberg, a local ACS representative.

The parade route will be lined with sponsor banners and route marker signs and local businesses, organizations or individuals can sponsor the signage. Also new this year, will be something akin to the Relay for Life luminary bags. The pink “tribute” bags can be purchased ahead of time and inked with a memorial or survivor tribute to a loved one. The pink bags will be displayed on the parade route.To sign up or join a team, make a donation, dedicate a tribute bag, or find the swag shop (see sidebar), visit www.makingstrideswalk.org/floridakeysfl.


Pink shirts, pink converse, pink bracelets, pink car magnets — it’s all available at the Think Pink Pop Up Shop. The local branch of the American Cancer Society fundraising team is hosting a series of sales throughout October. It’s a great place to find the merch most participants will be waving or wearing at the Saturday, Oct. 24 Drive Strides in Marathon.

“The T-shirts are really cute,” said Suzi Youngberg, a local ACS representative, “and are priced at $10.” One hundred percent of the proceeds goes to the cause, as the cost was sponsored by AM Electric.

The event organizers — chaired by Shayne Messina with the help of Suzy Curry, Trich Worthington, Jill Bell and Shelly Gardner — are also selling raffle tickets to win a new 2020 Ford EcoSport, underwritten by South Florida Ford. Again, all proceeds benefit ACS research. The raffle tickets are $10 for 6 entries and the drawing is Nov. 20.

Youngberg said the fundraising is critical in 2020. “For the first time in American Cancer Society’s history, breast cancer research could go unfunded because the money just isn’t there,” she said. “That’s especially important to our metastatic breast cancer patients, who rely on new treatments when the old ones stop working.”

The swag is available for purchase at www.makingstrideswalk.org/floridakeysfl

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