GOUVERNEUR — A river of pink flowed down a rain-slick Main Street Saturday morning as the Gouverneur Breast Cancer Fund conducted it’s 20th annual fundraiser.

Hundreds of people crowded into Gouverneur Village Park to fuel up on coffee and donuts, meet up with teammates and get final instructions for the annual walk.

Country singer Jimmy Charles — a cancer awareness advocate and a national spokesperson for ZERO: The End of Prostate Cancer since 2014 — signed autographs and sang before the start of the walk.

Terry A. Pistolesi, a 15-year member of the Breast Cancer Fund board was not surprised by the huge turnout despite a steady rain.

Hundreds of participants in the 20th annual Gouverneur Breast Cancer Walk cross over the Oswegatchie River as they make their way down Main Street in the village on Saturday. Christopher Lenney/Watertown Daily Times

“Cancer patients go through a lot more than walking in the rain,” she said.

Last year’s event was held virtually and still raised $88,000. This year, Ms. Pistolesi said she expects to reach a fundraising goal of $150,000. In its 20-year history the fund has raised more than $2 million.

The Gouverneur Breast Cancer Fund differs from other charities, Ms. Pistolesi said, by returning 100% of money raised to cancer patients.

“There are no administrative fees,” she said.

The Breast Cancer Fund serves victims of breast and ovarian cancers, she said.

The mission of the organization is to address people’s financial needs during their recovery or while in the process of determining whether they are afflicted. The only criteria for applicants is that they must live in St. Lawrence, Jefferson or Lewis counties.

Everyone, once diagnosed, receives a care package with comfort items like blankets and pillows and a book describing likely treatment in terms a layperson can understand, Ms. Pistolesi said.

So far this year, the Breast Cancer Fund has aided 92 women, which is a pace ahead of last year, Ms. Pistolesi said.

She expects the increase is due to many people putting off visits to the doctor last year because of COVID-19 and the increase in awareness of the Breast Cancer Fund.

At the start of the walk, everybody is full of energy and joy, Ms. Pistolesi said as she looked over the park teeming with T-shirt garbed walkers.

The end of the walk is different.

“You feel the love and the community of everyone coming together,” Ms. Pistolesi said. “No one feels alone.”

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Johnson Newspapers 7.1

St. Lawrence/Franklin County Editor

Slowly self-propelled. Two-time cancer survivor. Nearly 30-year newspaper veteran.

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