This morning at a packed press conference to announce details of this year’s Walk for Life the mayors of Adeje and Arona, José Miguel Rodríguez Fraga and José Julián Mena Pérez, also announced the establishment of a Walk for Life Foundation that would mean a permanent infrastructure behind the event, now in its eleventh year, that has been organised by Brigitte Gypen and other volunteers.
The press conference heard from Brigitte herself, who is a breast cancer survivor, and who started the Walk for Life in Santa Cruz 11 years ago with a handful of supporters and a mission to raise awareness about early detection and intervention. “I felt lucky to have survived and wanted to do something”, she commented. Eight years ago the walk moved to the south of Tenerife and last year over 2,000 people walked and €28,000 was raised. This year “I am hopeful that 3,000 will walk”, she said. She paid tribute to the many women with cancer who walk, and those who find the kind of support and human interaction they need through the people they meet on the walk. She also welcomed the establishment of the foundation, “otherwise I could be facing divorce”, she joked.
José Miguel Rodríguez Fraga, mayor of Adeje, said the Walk was very important as it “gives visibility to this cancer, something which affects many people. It also brings solidarity and help, two important factors, in particular here in the South, a tourist zone, a very international zone.” It is also,” he continued, “something that needs to be highlighted much more than just one day a year”. In this regard he had been pleased to see the Pink Room/Sala Rosa open in Adeje earlier this year, a space where cancer sufferers and their families can come to talk, meet, where the associations can stage workshops or invite professionals.
The Arona mayor José Julián Mena Pérez said the Walk for Life, growing in size every year, was also about integration. “This is an event that everyone can take part in and is something that promotes human values and health”. He added that the council were always available to offer the institutional help needed, and having listened to the words of survivors “it is important to emphasise that we are all with you and here to offer the help of this administration”.
Alejandro Martínez, ex-ACB league basketball coach, and the first Walk for Life Grand Marshal has become well known for encouraging support and respect for those with breast cancer within the world of sport. In the past he has encouraged referees to use pink whistles and players to wear pink-framed sunglasses. He thanked Brigitte for inviting him to be the first Grand Marshal of the Walk for Life, adding that unlike sport, in this fight “there are no rivals, and the fight against cancer was something we have to work on every day of the year”. And he repeated a message underlined by Brigitte, that one of the most important messages is that of the importance of auto-examination and early detection in saving lives. “I hope that for the 25th anniversary there won’t just be 3,000 walking, the whole island will be walking”, he concluded.
The Walk for Life will start from the Magma Arte & Congresos centre at 10.30 and will take the coast road, ending up almost 5 kilometres later at the Plaza del Pescador in front of the Los Cristianos Cultural Centre. There will also be a number of stops along the way and a bus for those who might not be able to complete the walk on foot. Entertainment before and after the walk is guaranteed and there will also be a raffle with, says Brigitte, “incredible prizes”. Monies raised go to research and Amate (association of women with breast cancer) and the Spanish Cancer Association, both of who work directly with people affected with cancer and their families. You can take part by turning up on the day (a small donation is appreciated) though organisers do advise turning up before 10am to