More than 300 people formed a parade that snaked through the first floor of the Valley View Mall in Roanoke on Saturday. Shoppers stopped and stared at the participants dressed in pink, in honor of Breast Care Awareness month. Members of the Roanoke Community Band played “Swanee” and “Happy Days are Here Again” as they led the marchers through the mall.
The Positively Pink Parade and later the live music, a silent auction and other events benefited the Every Woman’s Life program which provides free mammograms to low-income, uninsured, and underinsured women living in the Roanoke Valley.
Organizers say this year’s turnout was the largest in its five year history. Allie Munsey is marketing coordinator for Panera Bread in Roanoke which hosts the event. “We, as a company, believe in spreading the word about breast cancer awareness just because they’re our customers, they’re our friends and neighbors. And this is really a positive event. It kind of gets people in the party mode but yet also remembering. It’s just a feel good type of awareness event.”
Dario Stanzini from Lynchburg wore a pink tutu, a pink wig, oversized pink glasses and a shirt that read, “I (breast cancer ribbon symbol in a heart shape) boobs”. As for his outfit, Stanzini “just wanted to be part of it.” His wife Heather, a five-year breast cancer survivor, says she didn’t have to coax him to wear the outfit, “not even the (pink) tutu.”
When asked how Heather’s illness changed the couple’s lives, Dario Stanzini replied, “It really opened your eyes [t0] really live life to the fullest. You never know what’s going to happen.”
Some of the marchers wore T-shirts with the names of loved ones; some who have fought cancer and some of those currently fighting the disease. Some marched as a family; others were united in support of a loved one.
About 10 people wore hand-made T-shirts which read “Team Lisa.” The “Lisa” is Lisa Allagas from Roanoke who was diagnosed with breast cancer in August. She’s had two treatments and has lost her hair.
“Everyone came out to support me. They all made the T-shirts. They’re cousins, they’re daughters . . . husband, mother.” Some of the Team Lisa members came from as far away as Ohio and West Virginia. Lisa’s sister, Emily King, shaved her head to go “bald” with Lisa. The sister said, “It’s liberating.”