Pink ribbons to invade 60 miles of Tampa Bay streets: An Air Force team comes together to raise funds for the walk
by 1st Lt. Erin Dorrance
Pink hats, pink T-shirts and pink socks will invade Tampa Bay's streets for the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation Walk Oct. 7 to 9.
A four-person, Air Force team, called Breast Friends Forever, will hit the pavement during the three-day, 60-mile walk to raise money for breast cancer research.
The Breast Friends Forever team includes Tech. Sgt. Bel Serocki and Staff Sgt. Angela Whitman, both flight attendants with the 310th Airlift Squadron; Lisa Lourake, an Air Force spouse living in Washington D.C.; and Master Sgt. Annie Hoglen, a flight attendant stationed at Hickam Air Force Base, Hawaii. Although the team has been concerned with training for the event, their main priority is raising money for the walk. Each walker must raise $2,100 in donations to walk.
"We are doing all sorts of things to raise money," said Sergeant Serocki, who will be participating in the walk for the fourth time.
The team, which still lacks $4,700, will be hosting a garage sale Sept. 17 from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. at 1807 Winn Arthur Drive in Valrico. Other efforts to raise the money include a spare change jar at the 310th AS which has been filling up daily. The team is also selling breast cancer key chains, pins and calendars, which will be available at the garage sale. Additional events, including a car wash, are being discussed but have not been scheduled.
Although raising a large amount of money can be stressful with deployments and long work hours, Sergeant Serocki said the walk is well worth it to her.
"If people can put up with all that pain and chemotherapy [during breast cancer treatment], I can put up with 60 miles," she said.
She reminisced about past walks when people at the event beeped as they drove by. She said several people came up to her to thank her and said they were a cancer survivor, or had a mom who had died from breast cancer. She said there are also cheering stations along the route.
"It is very emotional, seeing the T-shirts with memories of passed loved ones," she said.
The team looks forward to experiencing these emotions again as they raise money. They plan to show up at the opening ceremony Oct. 7 in Clearwater decked out in Air Force clothing. They will complete 22.8 miles the first day and end at a camp in Tampa Bay, which is set up by 400 crew workers.
"We are so spoiled," said Sergeant Serocki. "The crew's main objective is to take care of the walkers and they treat us walkers like gold."
She said the camp holds about 2,000 walkers and includes everything from an entertainment tent to a remembrance tent where those that died from breast cancer are honored.
The walk ends at the Raymond James Ceremony with a huge celebration party open to the public. Each walking team wears a theme at the closing ceremony; the Breast Friends Forever have chosen to go Hawaiian.