A strong desire to bring an end to breast cancer, forged through a strong bond formed from a lifelong friendship helped two former Brazil residents raise a large sum of money in an attempt to battle a deadly disease.
Ashley Dalton and Tonya Decker, 1997 graduates of Northview High School, recently participated in the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer three-day walk, a 60-mile jaunt conducted at 15 various locations across the United States.
Dalton and Decker chose to participate in the Boston walk, as it is the city where Decker resides.
Both expressed how difficult completing the 60-mile walk was.
The first day proved to be particularly tough as Dalton, Decker and the other 1,600 participants had to walk in "very, very rainy," conditions.
Through everything, they persevered and Decker expressed great pleasure in completing the walk for a cause she believes in.
"(Breast Cancer) has an effect on almost everyone, because everyone knows someone whose been affected by it," Decker said. "I feel like I had to do this."
Both women have lost loved ones to the disease. Dalton lost an aunt while Decker lost two great-aunts.
The walk proved to be a successful fundraising expenditure for all involved, as the Boston leg of the event brought in approximately $4 million.
All told, Dalton and Decker raised $7,000.
Aside from the serious topics the walk was created to bring awareness to, it also served as a chance for the former area residents to rekindle a lifelong friendship.
Dalton and Decker met in preschool and have remained very close throughout their lives.
After graduating from Northview, they both attended Indiana University then moved to Milwaukee after finishing their collegiate studies in 2001.
Occupational changes eventually forced the parties to separate. Dalton, who currently lives in Indianapolis, says she and Decker have remained close and getting together for a cause they both considered to be a noble one was a great way for them to reunite.
"This is a cause that is very near and dear to our hearts," Dalton said. "And because we live so far apart, it's a great way for us to get to spend time together."
The walk in Boston marked the first time either party had participated in such an event. Decker said it was very helpful for her to embark on her neophyte journey with someone she has shared such a strong bond with for so many years.
"This being my first time (doing the walk), I didn't want to do it with anyone but my best friend," Decker said. "I can't put the experience into words."
With all the personal connections she has to the event, and the acknowledgement of the millions of people around the world affected by the ailment, Dalton said the greatest feeling she took away from the walk was knowing she and everyone involved were helping toward the ultimate goal of eliminating breast cancer.
"I think events such as this raise awareness and help remind people what's important," Dalton said. "It helps people slow down the small hassles of everyday life and focus on causes that very badly need their attention."