The fourth annual Susan G. Komen Walk for the Cure, a 5k walk and run, took place on last month at South Mountain Recreational Complex in West Orange. The event garnered over 7,500 participants, including Bloomfield resident Amanda Mentis.
Mentis is the Coordinator of HumaneBloomfield TNR (short for Trap-Neuter-Return) and a Neighbor to Neighbor Network board member. HumaneBloomfield TNR’s mission is “to lower euthanasia rates, reduce costs for Animal Control, improve the quality of life for the cats and their human neighbors and to gradually and humanely reduce the feral cat population,” she said.
Mentis moved to Bloomfield six years ago and got involved with TNR after trying to find a place to bring the numerous stray cats that loitered around her building. TNR is “the process of trapping homeless cats (using humane cage traps), having them spayed/neutered, vaccinated against Rabies and Distemper, Revolution applied (ear mite/flea/worm treatment) and returning the cats to where they were trapped,” Mentis said. The cats are grouped and assigned a caregiver who’s responsible for monitoring and feeding the cats.
Mentis explains the TNR helps both the cats and the Bloomfield community. “TNR is the most effective approach to humanely reducing the feral cat population,” she said. “The cats are also healthier, due to proper nutrition and the vaccinations and Revolution treatment that they receive after their surgeries.”
Two years ago Mentis teamed up with HumaneBloomfield and other Bloomfield residents to start a public TNR program for the town. “With the full support of the Township of Bloomfield and under the Neighbor the Neighbor Network's non-profit umbrella, we have successfully TNR'd and/or placed over 400 cats and kittens,” Mentis said.
This was Mentis’s third year taking part in Walk for the Cure. “[For the past two years] I was a member of a team and had a great time while raising money for a cause that I think touches most people,” she said.
This year Mentis organized a group, which was composed of volunteers from the Neighbor to Neighbor Network, specifically members of the Bloomfield Animal Shelter and HumaneBloomfield TNR. “Our team was formed by word-of-mouth, as well as emails that were sent out by the shelter's fundraising committee to all volunteers,” she said. Mentis’s team raised a total of $945.
The people who made up Mentis’s team were one of her favorite aspects of the walk, particularly two youth participants. “We had two young boys that were a part of our team that had boundless energy and team spirit. It was great to have them participate with us,” Mentis said. “We had a wonderful and very motivated team.”
For those considering participating in the walk next year, Mentis advises preparing in advance. “I would say to start recruiting for your team early. Be proactive in your fundraising,” Mentis said. She also noted that many team members were able to easily garner donations through posting a direct link to the Susan G. Komen website on Facebook. “[It] really helped many of our team members reach out to friends and family without putting forth a tremendous amount of effort,” Mentis said.
Walk for the Cure is also open to everyone, not just those who are fitness-minded. “Whether you are an active person looking for a race to run or someone who wants to take a stroll with friends, participating will allow you to do what you enjoy while raising money for breast cancer research,” Mentis said.
Mentis and her team enjoyed their experience so much that they’ll return to the walk next year. “I absolutely plan on doing the race again next year and that sentiment has been echoed by my other team members. I think that our team will be bigger next year,” Mentis said. “This year was my first time organizing a team, so I've learned how to be more effective for the next time around.”
Walk for a Cure is a personal matter for Mentis, who knows a number of people who have been diagnosed with breast cancer. “Two of my aunts battled breast cancer as well as a friend's mother and most recently a very dedicated shelter volunteer,” she said. “One of my aunts passed away from breast cancer and the other is a six year survivor, so it is a cause that is near and dear to my heart.”
Mentis notes that breast cancer awareness is crucial because it impacts nearly everyone in some way. “Supporting the cause of breast cancer research and treatment is important to me because cancer is something that doesn't discriminate,” she says. “We are all at risk and know people who have battled or are battling cancer right now.”
In the past, the walk was held in Branch Brook Park, which made this walk different for Mentis. “I preferred the previous location at Branch Brook Park because of the close proximity, as well as the overall set-up,” she said.
The rain also posed a somewhat unexpected challenge to the number of walkers. “I think that the rain, as it was pretty severe in the morning, did stop some people from coming out,” Mentis said. But it didn’t damper the mood among those who did turnout for the walk. “The people who did come, and many did, had a wonderful time. Our spirits were high, as were the spirits of many of people around us,” Mentis said.
Mentis was pleased with how Walk for the Cure went. “I feel as if the event was a success. There was great energy, a big turnout despite the weather and a wonderful sense of community,” she said. “We had a fun time while raising money for a very important cause.”
Early counts say the event raised $1.3 million for cancer research and that amount is expected to go up.
The Susan G. Komen for the Cure, founded in 1982, is the world’s largest grassroots network of breast cancer survivors and activists. Susan G. Komen for the Cure promotes breast cancer research, early detection, treatment, and prevention. The foundation’s mission is to “save lives, empower people, ensure quality care for all and energize science to find the cures.”
For more information on Susan G. Komen for the Cure, call 1-877-GO KOMEN (1-877-465-6636) or visit http://ww5.komen.org/