On Sunday, October 9, 2016, Kean University students traveled with the Center for Leadership and Service (CLS) team to the American Cancer Society's Making Strides Against Breast Cancer Walk.
The event took place at the New Jersey Convention and Exposition Center in Edison, N.J. The walk was a 5K, which equates to 3.1 miles.
There was one Kean University volunteer who, for the past few years, has made it a point to attend the annual walk.
"I think it's a great experience," said Fiorella Corrales, senior elementary education major with a concentration in psychology. She attended because she believes breast cancer is important and efforts should be made to fight it.
"I make sure to come back every year," said Corrales.
This was Corrales' fourth time participating in the Making Strides Against Breast Cancer Walk as she walks for her aunt, who is currently battling breast cancer.
Organizations on campus were encouraged to participate in the event. While some organization members joined the CLS team, others decided to represent their organization as a whole and made their own teams. The sisters of Nu Theta Chi and Omega Sigma Psi stuck together for the cause and walked as sororities.
The day kicked off with registration and check-in starting at 7:30 a.m. Once participants checked in, they were free to walk around the large room.
Nearly all the senses were aroused during this time. There was music, the aroma of free coffee and doughnuts, which were provided by Dunkin' Donuts, and the colors pink and white were seen all over the expo center. Prior to the start of the walk, people gathered near the stage and D.J. to partake in a quick zumba lesson to get their blood flowing.
At 9 a.m., the walk, the reason all participants were there that cold and rainy day, commenced. Despite the dreary weather, the spirit of walkers did not dwindle. Throughout the 5K, people were seen animatedly talking, laughing and smiling. At random moments Kean University students could even be heard chanting, "Kean Blue Thinks Pink!"
Evelyn Gonzales, who attended the 5K for the first time a year ago, noticed minor changes at this year's Making Strides Against Breast Cancer Walk that improved the experience.
"It's definitely better," said Gonzales, junior early childhood education major with a concentration in literature. "They didn't have these cool [free pins] last time...overall it's a better experience."
The pins Gonzales referenced were worn by several participants. They were provided by the American Cancer Society and sported various phrases, such as the popular pin, "I'm making strides for..."
After what felt like a short time outside, the 3.1 miles were completed and the participants once again gained shelter from the pellets of rain. Back inside the Exposition Center, American Cancer Society volunteers distributed snacks like pretzels, baked chips, granola bars and apples so walkers could replenish the energy and nutrients used during the walk.
For one volunteer, it was her first time attending the walk, but it left a favorable impression.
"I would definitely come back and do it again," said Stephanie Ibrahin, freshman psychology major.
"It was good, except the weather," she added with a laugh.
After posing for a Kean University group photo, participants headed back to the bus, feeling proud of the strides they gave that morning to breast cancer research.