PROSPECT — When Tracy Howson and Becky Formica talked about celebrating their 40th birthdays last year, a traditional party did not come to mind. Instead of taking a trip to the casino or throwing a big bash, the two women decided to walk 60 miles in three days. And so, the Pink Panthers team for the Susan G. Komen 3-Day walk for breast cancer was founded.
One year later, Howson and Formica are at it again; this time, two new members joined the team. The two recruited friends from Prospect, Christon Smith and Colleen Cull. These four women accepted the challenge to raise about $10,000 and walk in Washington, D.C. for three days in October.
“When I was in high school, my best friend lost her mom,” Howson said, while playing with the pink-studded ribbon around her neck. The necklace matched her 3-Day T-shirt and the pink and black bracelet around her wrist — all representing her dedication to the cause. “And when I was getting married, my other best friend lost her mom [to breast cancer].
“Kids shouldn’t not have a mom,” she continued, “You shouldn’t lose a sister or a daughter or a wife to cancer, it’s just scary to see.”
Howson considers herself lucky to not have any immediate family affected by breast cancer.
“Right after [I joined Pink Panthers], I found out two of my friends, who are both in their 30s, are both having both breasts removed,” said Smith. “So, I thought, maybe this is happening for a reason.”
The 3-Day walk brings out family members, friends, survivors and those still battling. Howson said one of the things that keeps her going during the walk is the people walking alongside.
“When you’re at mile 12 and you’re just like, ‘OK, this is stupid, why am I doing this?’ And then you go to the pit stop and there’s a woman throwing up from chemo, and she just rinses out her mouth and keeps walking. Then you’re like, ‘OK well, that’s why I’m here,’” Howson said.
“Things like that make us getting blisters on our feet totally worth it,” Smith added.
Each team member has to raise $2,300 in order to participate in the race. The Pink Panthers have been fundraising in Prospect and Cheshire. Their next fundraiser will be a quarter auction this Sunday at the Prospect Firehouse.
The auction will begin at 11 a.m. Tickets are $5 and include a number paddle and small lunch. Prizes are bid on with quarters. When bidding closes, numbers will be drawn at random for each prize. Vendors and donors will also have booths around the room.
Tickets are limited. In order to purchase a ticket or donate to the Pink Panthers, contact Tracy Howson at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Pink Panthers are hoping to travel each year to a new 3-Day, eventually attending all 14 sites.
“The only way I can describe [the experience] is powerful,” Howson said.