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Pine Island From Our Hearts 17th annual BreastFest Walk March 10

January 31, 2018
By ED FRANKS ( , Pine Island Eagle

Due to the shortage of volunteers Pine Island From Our Hearts has joined forces with the Beacon of HOPE for this year's 17th Annual BreastFest Walk to be held Saturday, March 10.

"Unfortunately this year we were forced to cancel the festivities that surround the walk," From Our Hearts president Barb Riordan said. "But we always have 300 to 400 walkers every year and with the Beacon's help and their many volunteers, we have scheduled the walk. We're inviting all walkers to our 5K and 1 mile walk next month."

Pine Island From Our Hearts began in 2001 when a handful of Pine Island residents sent a local resident to a three-day 60-mile Breast Cancer Walk in California.

"That initial effort started with a few local musicians playing music at the Island Hardware store in St. James City and passing the hat," Riordan said. "Out of that, the not-for-profit Pine Island From Our Hearts was formed."

Riordan became involved in the organization by participating in the walks.

"Then a neighbor, Guylin DeMere, came over and said 'we need new blood' and asked me to come to a meeting," Riordan said. "I became secretary at my first meeting and we were off. After about a year, a neighbor named Katie got sick and I saw how much FOH helped Katie who had an 8-year-old boy."

Today From Our Hearts Inc. still consists of a small group of Pine Island residents whose only focus is to raise funds to provide breast cancer screening and treatment for any qualified Pine Island resident who is in need of financial assistance.

"One hundred precent of the funds we raise are donated to Partners for Breast Cancer Care and Regional Cancer Center/Lee Memorial Health System to be used only for residents of the Greater Pine Island area," Riordan said.

From Our Hearts was able to provide funds to Partners for Breast Cancer Care for a young woman named Ms. H. Partners for Breast Cancer Care shared her story:

"Since August 2016, when Ms. H called us for the first time looking for help she was a young woman very afraid and concerned about a 'problem' in her breast. Ms. H is a single mother, with a 3-year-old boy. She works a part-time job as an office clerk, receiving $194 from Children & Families to help with food.

"Ms. H had found a lump in her left breast a few days before the call and both her mother and sister (32 years old) were already diagnosed with breast cancer.

"During all those months, Partners', with the support of From Our Hearts, helped her throughout the process of testings and financial hardships. From Our Hearts made it possible to fund two ultrasounds, one MRI, a cyst aspiration, pathology and surgeon (Dr. Lea Blackwell).

"During the month previous to being diagnosed, Ms. H was fighting with the landlord to avoid eviction from the apartment she was sharing with her son. The Beacon of HOPE referred her to United Way and other community agencies for help and today she's approved for Medicaid.

"Ms. H is currently in treatment with chemotherapy and we expect for her the best. She's is brave and smart, and after all these experiences, more strong and capable than ever. Even when everything was looking really dark in her life, she keeps saying, 'I have to make it for my son.'"

From Our Hearts is now looking to the future to continue to provide financial help to members of the community in their fight against breast cancer.

"Our success has been because of the generosity of each of our members," Riordan said. "Over the years we have been able to help over 1,000 women and men in our community to receive critical evaluations and treatment in their fight against breast cancer. To do this we need your help."

"The Beacon of HOPE is proud to be a partner with From our Hearts," Beacon executive director Betsy Haesemeyer said. "Working together we can better identify residents in need of services and initiate next health care steps as quickly as possible. From Our Hearts and the Beacon currently work with Partners in Breast Cancer Care and Lee Health, the experts in facilitating the services (diagnostic testing through treatment) our residents may need.

"Together the 3 organizations can make the difference for individuals and their families in detecting and fighting Breast Cancer."

Pine Island From Our Hearts next meeting is at the Blue Crab Key clubhouse on Feb. 8 from 4-6 p.m. Refreshments will be provided.

If people are interested in finding out more, they can call 239-283-5643 or 239-247-3276 or attend the next meeting. They can also email FOH at



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