Mary Lou Bonczkowski, of Evans, and her daughter, Tiffany Nolla, aren't just going the extra mile to help eradicate breast cancer. They're walking 39.3 miles to raise money to stamp out the disease.
Ms. Bonczkowski and Ms. Nolla, a 1999 Evans High School graduate, plan to participate in the Avon Walk for Breast Cancer in Los Angeles on Sept. 16-17.
"We're doing this because my mother had breast cancer and she is a four-year survivor and my grandmother died of breast cancer," Ms. Bonczkowski said.
Her mother, Rose Zank, of Augusta, was diagnosed with breast cancer in July 2001 and had a mastectomy in August 2001. She endured five months of chemotherapy and 12 radiation therapy treatments, Ms. Bonczkowski said.
Ms. Zank has been cancer-free since 2002. Ms. Zank's mother died of the disease at age 43, leaving behind a husband and 10 children, Ms. Bonczkowski said.
"The biggest thing is getting the word out (about) early detection," she said. "That's how my mother's was found. She had a mammogram every year and it didn't show up in 2000, but it did in 2001."
To get to Los Angeles, the women must raise $1,800 each.
In Los Angeles, the "Tulip Girls," as they call themselves, will meet and walk with thousands of other survivors and supporters, sleeping overnight in a tent decorated with tulips to distinguish it from thousands of other blue tents, Ms. Bonczkowski said.
According to an Avon Foundation news release, the Los Angeles walk has attracted 37,000 participants and has raised more than $100 million for research, education and to expand access to care for the poor since 2003.
"It's going to be a very emotional time, but I expect to make a lot of great friends," Ms. Bonczkowski said, adding that she's worked her way up to six miles a day and is working on increasing strength, despite being stricken early in life with juvenile arthritis.
Ms. Zank said she's proud of her daughter and granddaughter and wishes she could walk with them in Los Angeles.
"I feel wonderful (about the walk), very grateful," she said. "I'll root for them from here."
Reach J. Scott Trubey at (706) 868-1222, ext. 109, or email@example.com.
Donations may be made to:
The Tulip Girls
P.O. Box 2254
Evans, GA 30809
For more information: (706) 414-1361 or visit www.avonwalk.org.