IRVINGTON, NJ — Louise Ryanes didn’t let being the last walker to participate in seventh annual Breast Cancer Walk on Sunday, Oct. 8, phase her one bit. The walk was organized by Irvington Fire Division FMBA Local 14 Union Vice President Mike Scott, the Public Safety Department’s Fire and Police divisions, Mayor Tony Vauss and the Irvington Municipal Council.
“I’m a cancer survivor and I’ve done these walks. The ones in Newark I’ve done for the last eight or nine years. This one I just did last year, because I just found out about it,” said Ryanes. “So I’m out here walking and hoping that, by other people seeing me, maybe they will take some hope and maybe they will be able to be out here next year. I’m from Irvington and now we don’t have to go that far to be involved in the fight against cancer.”
Ryanes was diagnosed with multiple myeloma, a form of bone cancer, but now the disease is in remission.
“They’re doing so many different things, finding so many different pills and things that you can take, different medicines and things, so I think it hurts you when you first hear it,” Ryanes said. “But you also have to think they’re doing so many things now, maybe it’s not a death sentence. You have to keep a positive mindset. If you don’t have a positive mindset, forget it.”
Ryanes was several blocks behind the event’s main contingent of walkers, who started out from Civic Square, but she didn’t let her tardiness prevent her from walking the entire route, even though it meant she probably wouldn’t catch up to the main body of walkers.
“They have a pretty good head start, but I’m not going to give up,” said Ryanes. “I came out to do the walk. I’m late but, hey, I’ll walk behind if necessary, but I’m doing this walk.”
Other walkers included Scott, Vauss, Public Safety Directory Tracy Bowers, Deputy Public Safety Director John Brown, fire Chief Antonio Gary, Municipal Council President David Lyons, Council Vice President Renee Burgess, at large Councilwoman October Hudley, Irvington Democratic Committee Chairwoman Baseemah Beasley, Chancellor Avenue School Principal Winston Jackson, the Irvington High School Junior Reserve Officers Training Corps and many others.
“We’re out here doing our annual Breast Cancer Walk. Seven years strong. The rain keeps trying to take us out, but we won’t let it, rain or shine,” said Scott at the event. He wore a pink bandana in honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month.
“We’re just out here for the purpose to make sure that everybody is aware that breast cancer is really serious,” said Scott. “A lot of people are affected by it and we just want to put it out there to people to keep them aware of what’s going on. We’re going to keep doing this every year, until something positive happens. Just putting it out there to people keeps them aware of everything that’s going on.”
Principal Jackson and Sgt. 1st Class Retired Harvey Craig of the Irvington High School JROTC agreed with Scott and said giving back to their community and charity work are great lessons for their students to learn.
“It’s a pink day today,” said Jackson. “We represent pink today. One color. One fight. One opponent.”
Craig echoed Jackson’s sentiments as an educator and a soldier.
“We’ve got Irvington High School out here behind us today. We’re out here 80 deep. That’s Irvington High School JROTC right there,” said Craig on Sunday, Oct. 8. “We’re always deep. Always supporting the community. This is where they’re from, so we want to be out here, where they’re from, letting the people in their community know they care and they give back.”
Vauss formerly served as the president of the Irvington Board of Education, before being elected mayor, and agreed with everyone that community service for a good cause is a very worthwhile lesson for every child in town to learn.
“I’m honored, walking in tribute to my mother and father, who lost their battles with cancer,” said Hudley on Sunday, Oct. 8.
Bowers said the event was “a great walk for a great cause and we’re going to sweat and do some stuff for breast cancer awareness.”