Main menu


North Fork Breast Health Alliance raises funds to help local breast cancer survivors with its 24th annual 5km walk at Tanger Outlets

The 24th annual Five-Kilometer Breast Cancer Awareness Walk kicked off Sunday morning at Tanger Outlets in Riverhead, attracting more than 150 survivors, family members, friends and supporters, despite the overcast skies and drizzle at the start of the event.

The event is a fundraiser for the North Fork Breast Health Coalition, an all-volunteer, nonprofit organization that supports research to identify the causes of breast cancer, educates women about the importance of self-exams and annual mammograms, and provides direct support and services to breast cancer patients and survivors living in North Fork. These include yoga, reflexology, massage therapy, and a bi-monthly support group, as well as access to Rita Duva’s boutique, which provides wigs, scarves, prosthetics, and other items for breast cancer survivors.

Bernadette Tuttle, NFBHC vice president and co-chair of the march, said Sunday that the organization has recently seen an increase in people with metastases or late diagnoses seeking group services.

“Because of COVID, people weren’t going to their shows,” Tuthill said Sunday morning. “So we have seen a growing demand for our services, giveaways, wigs and prosthetics. Events like this help us fund that so that we can provide it to our members for free.” “We’re also people who come back with a diagnosis of metastases.”

NFBHC Vice President and Event Co-chair Bernadette Tuthill with her mother and fellow board member Fanny Tuthill. Both women are breast cancer survivors. Photo: Dennis Civility

The North Fork Alliance for Breast Health created the Phase IV fund last year in honor of Keri Stromski of Aquebogue, a fierce advocate for funding research and development of treatments for metastatic breast cancer. Stromsky was diagnosed with stage 4 breast cancer in late 2016 at the age of 44. Stromsky pushed the slogan “Stage IV needs more” to emphasize the lack of interest in people diagnosed in Stage IV.

Thanks to the fund, which is chaired by Rob Stromsky, husband of Keri Stromsky, who has joined the NFBHC board of directors, “we are funding local clinicians doing Phase IV research,” Tuthill said.

Tuthill, like many of the organization’s board members and other volunteers, is herself a breast cancer survivor. Her mother, Fanny Tuthill, is also a survivor and recently joined the NFBHC Board of Directors.

“I believe in cause,” Fanny Tuthill said Sunday, as she was working at a table selling event basket auction tickets.

“They helped me navigate the whole process of diagnosis, surgery, and procedures,” she explained.

Survivor Sabina Winter of Riverhead poses for a photo for the NFBHC board of directors. Photo: Dennis Civility

Picnic Bay Medical Center Executive Director Amy Loeb kicked off the pre-walk festivities, which included an invitation from Reverend George Dupree of Living Water Church in Aquiboge and a color show by Mattituck/Southold NJROTC. Loeb led the pedestrians as the race began.

The event’s sponsor, Tanger Outlets in Riverhead, has hosted the 5K race since its inception in 1998. The rally, which takes place each year on the last Sunday in September, kicks off Breast Cancer Awareness Month, which takes place each year in October.

The event is also supported by many other corporate sponsors and residents from the local community. NFBHC President Melanie McEvoy said income from sponsorships, raffles, and fundraising by walkers together make the event a success for the organization, typically raising more than $15,000 each year.

RiverheadLOCAL Photos by Dennis Civility

The survival of the local press depends on your support.
We are a small family owned business. You depend on us to stay informed, and we depend on you to make our work possible. Just a few dollars can help us continue to provide this important service to our community.
Support RiverheadLOCAL today.