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The ninth annual Avon Walk for Breast Cancer season kicked off with the fourth annual Avon Walk Houston on April 9. The event raised more than $1.8 million to advance access to care and find a cure for breast cancer,it attracted nearly 1,000 participants from 31 states and Canada, including 91 breast cancer survivors, to raise life-saving funds and awareness for breast cancer.

“The dollars you raised are going to do a lot of good right here in Texas, right now,” said Carol Kurzig, president of the Avon Foundation for Women. “Our beneficiaries are leaders in the fight against breast cancer and they’re from your communities. They represent organizations that offer life-saving services to patients regardless of their ability to pay, and they are conducting cutting-edge research to find better treatments, prevention strategies, and ultimately to put an end to breast cancer.”

UTMB Health was one of eight local organizations that were awarded a total of $1.1 million in grants. The university received $90,000 to combat breast cancer through community education, outreach and patient navigation. More grants are slated to be awarded throughout the year to breast cancer programs nationwide.

“UTMB Health is honored to partner with the Avon Foundation and to celebrate this year’s participants. It was thrilling to see the walkers, volunteers and survivors join forces to raise funds in support of the Avon Walk," said Ann Anderson, senior director for UTMB Health. "Their efforts directly benefit the Houston area’s clinicians, researchers and patient advocates who work throughout the year to treat patients, find cures and sustain those who have been diagnosed with breast cancer. Funds raised through the 2011 Avon Walk will provide direct support to women of Southeast Texas who have been diagnosed with breast cancer. Our UTMB Health Patient Navigators will provide assistance, coordinate appointments, develop service plans and provide overall case management for uninsured and disadvantaged women. We thank the walkers and volunteers for every step along the way. Thanks to their success, the women served at UTMB Health will find the advocate they need.“

Other Texas grant recipients included Baylor College of Medicine, Seton Healthcare and Christus Health-St. Mary Hospital of Port Arthur.

Christine Marquise, a three-year breast cancer survivor from Dallas, spoke at the even'ts closing ceremony about overcoming breast cancer and having hope for others facing a breast cancer diagnosis.

“I’m awed by the journey we all just completed and the community that we’ve created in only two days together," said Marquise. "I’m proud to have crossed the finish line with my dad, Mike North, a veteran Avon Walker, who has literally been with me every step of the way. I’m also thankful that my mom could be here to celebrate with us, as she is a two-time, 13-year breast cancer survivor. And I’m honored to serve as living proof that with faith, great medical care, love and support, you can take on breast cancer — and win. Every step we took this weekend will help people here in Houston have a chance to turn their frightening diagnoses of breast cancer into happy, healthy futures filled with hope.”  

Donations are still being accepted for the Avon Walk Houston. For additional information, please visit  or call 800-541-WALK.