Walking in a sea of pink this Mother’s Day

| May 10, 2013

The annual Mother’s Day fun run and walk is a very special way to celebrate Mother’s Day. The community event raises funds for research and increases awareness of breast cancer, says Sharon Morris from Women in Super Mother’s Day Classic.

This Mother’s Day, walking in a sea of pink in Sydney’s Domain, I’ll be reflecting on what it means to be part of an amazingly meaningful movement that started in Melbourne and Sydney and has spread right around Australia.

A movement that began back in 1998 when two women, Mavis Robertson and Louise Davidson, realised many of their work colleagues were being touched by breast cancer, and resolved to have Women in Super, their industry networking group, raise funds for breast cancer research.

A group of determined women, using mostly volunteer labour, industry networks and immense enthusiasm, ensured that on Mother’s Day 1998, 3,000 people in Melbourne and Sydney came together for a small walk in the park – the very first Women in Super Mother’s Day Classic.

Skip forward to 2013, our 16th year, and on Sunday 12 May more than 125,000 participants, volunteers, sponsors and spectators will come together in 74 locations right around Australia (including every capital city).

Mother’s Day Classic has become an important and meaningful calendar date for many breast cancer survivors, their families (and those of women lost to the disease), the running community and the superannuation industry.

Mother’s Day Classic aims to deliver an inspirational community event that celebrates those touched by breast cancer – women and men – and raises awareness and funds for breast cancer research.

Since 1998, the event has raised $14.8 million for the National Breast Cancer Foundation research, making Mother’s Day Classic the largest single donor to NBCF.

The fun walk and run is now a Mother’s Day tradition for many Australian families.

It funds NBCF research programs, increases awareness of breast cancer within the community and is an opportunity to support and remember those affected by breast cancer.

We’ve come a long way. Research and early diagnosis does make a difference. Australian women diagnosed with breast cancer have an 89% chance of surviving five years after diagnosis.

Improvements in survival are attributed to earlier detection of breast cancer through population-based mammography screening and improved treatment outcomes for breast cancer – some of which has been funded directly by Mother’s Day Classic.

A study supported by Mother’s Day Classic has changed clinical practice to ensure that young women with breast cancer have the opportunity to be more informed before making treatment decisions that could affect their fertility.

Other studies we have supported have looked at improving quality of life for survivors, and investigated new detection options including 3-D mammography.

But there’s so much more to do.

One in eight women will develop breast cancer in their lifetime. By 2015, 15,409 women are projected to be diagnosed with breast cancer in Australia every year – an average of 42 women every day. Although rare, breast cancer can also affect men, accounting for approximately 1 in 125 cases.

On average, seven women die from breast cancer every day in Australia. Finding breast cancer early increases the chance of surviving the disease.

At the MDC this year, I want to take time out on a busy day to see the smiles on the faces of the families and acknowledge the significance the day holds for all. More poignantly, I’ll be looking at the thousands of Tribute Cards walkers and runners pin to their backs, with messages and dedications to those they are running or walking for.

The event is still largely run by volunteer committees of women within the Australian superannuation industry – the industry which has been a generous sponsor over the years.

We are proud that we have created a fun, healthy and inspiring event that the community can enjoy together on Mother’s Day, for a worthwhile cause.

Join us and see for yourself the atmosphere – it’s not too late to register, fundraise or donate, find your nearest event at www.mothersdayclassic.com.au.

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Sharon Morris

Sharon Morris is National Secretary of Women in Super and National Manager of the Women in Super Mother’s Day Classic. She joined the Mother’s Day Classic in December 2007 and has played an integral part in the development, implementation and management of the national walk/run event that raises vital funds for breast cancer research. Sharon is also a member of the Public Service Panel, Churchill Fellowship Victoria, The Winston Churchill Memorial Trust.