If you see a group of women dressed in matching outfits walking down Dundee Road, chances are that you’ve encountered the Lady Lifesavers.
Thirteen women, most from Buffalo Grove and surrounding towns, are putting their best foot forward as they prepare for Chicago's 39-mile, two-day Avon Walk for Breast Cancer. Beginning March 1, the team will begin training by walking in their team apparel to Starbucks, Panera, Portillo’s and other familiar destinations.
“We walk to eat,” said Buffalo Grove resident Sharon Feld, who is leading the team as it gears up for the June 4-5 event.
This will be Feld’s sixth Avon walk; her mom, also a team member, is a 33-year breast cancer survivor. Most of the Lady Lifesavers have experienced breast cancer through the diagnosis of a friend or relative, Feld said.
But while they are walking for personal reasons, the public has offered great support. When passersby see the team out training, they “will stop and say 'thanks for walking,'” said Feld.
Local businesses have also supported their fundraising efforts. Each walker must raise at least $1,800 to participate; last year, the 20-member team generated more than $61,000. Feld estimated that the crew has raised about $250,000 over the past six years. This year, she expects they will surpass their $30,000 goal.
Fundraising kicked off this month with a three-day bake sale at , where customers purchased assorted treats donated by the Lady Lifesavers and salon staff. The effort generated $370 for the cause, said salon owner Marilyn Wagner, who lives in Buffalo Grove.
Wagner, whose mother died from breast cancer, said she’s never met someone who hasn’t been touched in some way by the disease. Last year, her personal fundraising efforts netted more than $10,000 for the team. This year, knee problems will prevent her from completing the two-day walk, but she remains committed to raising money for the cause.
On April 25, her salon will again hold a Manicure and Merlot event to benefit the team’s fundraising efforts. From 5-10 p.m., clients can receive manicures ($16), mini-pedicures ($25), mini-facials ($35) and 30-minute massages ($35). Wagner pays her staff for their work, and turns all proceeds over to the team. Other highlights that night will include live music, food, free wine, vendors of woman-geared products and raffles awarding prizes from local businesses. Wagner said appointments are required for the spa services, but those who do not want the pampering are welcome to partake in the other activities.
“Manicure and Merlot is usually a big hit. We usually raise several thousand dollars,” she said.
Other upcoming fundraisers include:
- On Feb. 22, will donate 20 percent of proceeds to the team.
- On March 2, a portion of the proceeds from Long Grove Café’s "Cooking for a Cure" event will benefit the team. The $35 event, which begins at 6:30 p.m., includes a five-course meal, wine and a cooking demonstration.
The support the Lady Lifesavers get from local businesses and donors make their effort “so much bigger than 13 women walking,” Feld said. “It’s really heartwarming.”
In addition to Feld and Wagner, this year's team includes Buffalo Grove resident Melanie Croft; Long Grove residents Gina Quatrochi, Renee Clark and Cathy Bendoff; Arlington Heights resident Mary Turner; Vernon Hills resident Debbie Scott; Lake Zurich resident Angela Sisi; Glenview resident Joan Lewin, and McHenry resident Joy Prisching. They are joined by Bev Serlin and Corey Jamison, who will travel from Florida and New York, respectively, to join the team.
Donations can be made on behalf of individual walkers through the Lady Lifesavers’ participant website.