Pink-clad walkers pass through OB and Point Loma during 60-mile trek against breast cancer
More than 2,200 people take part in the Susan G. Komen 3-Day.
Blaring disco hits and rock anthems from the 1970s, a parade of cars rolled through Ocean Beach on Nov. 20, their doors and windows painted in pink with cheeky slogans such as “Save Areola 51” and “Treasure Ye Chests” that alluded to a much more serious cause: the fight against breast cancer.
The display of encouragement was in support of more than 2,200 walkers from across the nation and globe taking part in the Susan G. Komen 3-Day walk.
During the event, which has raised more than $140 million to support the nonprofit’s breast cancer research and patient care since it first came to the area in 2003, walkers trek 60 miles over three days. Participants — nearly all clad in the cause’s signature pink — had to raise a minimum of $2,300.
The walk started in Del Mar on Nov. 19 and rolled through Ocean Beach, Point Loma, Mission Beach and Mission Bay the following day. Walkers head through Old Town and Balboa Park before finishing on Sunday, Nov. 21, at Waterfront Park in downtown San Diego.
Each day is a 20-mile walk for participants, many of whom removed their shoes and spread out on mats under partly sunny skies at Mission Bay Park for a “halfway point celebration” before noon Nov. 20. The scenic spot gave the crowd a chance to take a lunch break and do some socializing before the Day 2 finish at “base camp” at Crown Point.
Some walkers were first-timers, more than 400 were breast cancer survivors, and others, like Ruth Phillipson of San Dimas and Rob Imparato from the Cayman Islands, have years of fundraising under their walking shoes. Imparato said he has raised nearly $100,000 in 10 years of Susan G. Komen walks, including seven in San Diego.
“These walks let us get to feel what we call ‘the pink bubble’ of kindness, empathy and compassion,” he said. “You walk alongside strangers who become friends. Everybody’s had somebody in their lives who has been touched by cancer.”
One vehicle trailing the walkers epitomized the festive atmosphere, pulling over near Sunset Cliffs Boulevard to offer bubbly adult beverages in mini plastic cups to pink tutu-clad men and women. An Uber driver changed the wording on the vehicle to “bUUber” and noted an offer of free rides all weekend to walkers.
Another vehicle cruised around with 20 giant multicolored bras hanging from its windows and doors.
One van unloaded a half-dozen men who called themselves “60 Miles for our Melons.” The gang sported pink bras stuffed with mini watermelons.
“We support the walkers all three days, all the way from start to finish,” said Melon Man spokesman Robert Subkow, whose wife was one of the walkers. “These girls are going through a lot, if they haven’t already been through a lot. The list just keeps growing and growing every year. It’s just tragic.”
Nearly 30 San Diego police officers on bicycles, some decked out with pink leis, volunteered to ride the 60 miles over the three days. It was the department’s 12th year being part of the event, said Capt. Matt Novak, who has volunteered every year.
“We ride in support of the ladies, make sure they get along safely, and if someone falls, we’ll hang with them until the medics arrive,” Novak said. “But mostly we come out and have a good time, A lot of them have been going through a very trying time with diagnosis, with surgeries. And the officers that ride, 95 percent of them have family members who have been through the same. It’s near and dear to our hearts as well.”