Sparta Cathy Giugliano and Debbie Johnson of Sparta will spend a weekend of October 2-3 participating in the Avon "Walk for Breast Cancer" in New York city. This walk is the last of eight fundraising walks held across the nation from April to October, to increase awareness of breast cancer, and help raise funds for access to care and finding a cure. Avon Walks are non-competitive and structured for walkers of various fitness levels. In 2003 and 2004, participants raised more than $60 million. Giugliano and Johnson are taking the challenge, inspired by the courage of a friend who was recently diagnosed with breast cancer. Like everyone walking in the event, they are required to raise a minimum of $1,800 to participate. They are hoping that other Sparta residents will share their goodwill towards their efforts. To help Giugliano and Johnson reach their fundraising goals, readers may donate online at avonwalk.org, or email firstname.lastname@example.org. The walkers will begin their trek very early on Saturday morning, after a motivational opening ceremony. They will walk either 13.1 or 26.2 miles (half or full marathon distances) toward the Wellness Village, their home-away-from-home for the night, where they can take a hot shower, hot meal, and yoga class, get to know fellow walkers, and receive information on breast cancer. All the essentials are provided for participants, including two-person tents, massage therapy and comprehensive medical services. On Sunday, they will walk 13.1 miles back to the starting point for a celebration with family, friends, supporters and the general public. A dedicated all-volunteer crew of several hundred people supports the walkers and event throughout the entire weekend. The public is invited to cheer along the route, and join at closing ceremonies. Because there is no known cure for breast cancer, awareness, education and early detection are the best defenses against the disease. All women are at risk for breast cancer, but it also occurs in men. The American Cancer Society estimates that there will be more than 200,000 new cases of breast cancer in the U.S. , and in excess of 40,000 deaths attributed to the disease in 2005. This year an estimated 1,700 new cases will be diagnosed in men. Recent statistics show that there is a 97 percent survival rate when breast cancer is caught early, before it spreads to other parts of the body. Funds donated to the Avon "Walk for Breast Cancer" are managed and disbursed by the Avon Foundation, an accredited 501(c)(3) public charity. Beneficiaries range from leading cancer centers to community-based non-profit breast health programs in the vicinities of each walk. Returning national sponsors are: Novartis' Ribbon of Pink; RYKÄ, footwear for women; Crystal Light; new national sponsor Airplus for her; and official water sponsor FIJI. The Avon Foundation was founded in 1955, and their breast cancer crusade, begun in 1992, has expanded to 50 countries. The focus is on reaching the medically underserved population n including minorities, the poor, elderly, under- and uninsured n with a mission to fund access to care and finding a cure for breast cancer. Since its inception, the foundation has returned more than $350,000,000 net to breast cancer research and care organizations worldwide. For more details, to register to walk or join the crew, or to pledge financial support, visit avonwalk.org or call 1-877-WALK AVON for more information.