‘Gerry’s Gang’ helps LI walkers raise $3m to fight cancer

Members of 'Gerry's Gang' at the Making Strides Against Breast Cancer Walk, at Jones Beach Oct. 16 (LIR photo by Carissa Nasso)

It has become a yearly tradition. One Sunday each October members of  ‘Gerry’s Gang’ take a walk along the Jones Beach Boardwalk. Afterwards they all go to reminisce over lunch at one of their favorite hangouts, Jackie Reilly’s in Bethpage.

Through the laughter tears may start to form in their eyes. There is one member of the Gang who is conspicuously absent, Gerry herself. She died of breast cancer in 2005. She left behind two children who were 11 and 13 at the time.

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Members of 'Gerry's Gang' at the Making Strides Against Breast Cancer Walk, at Jones Beach Oct. 16 (LIR photo by Carissa Nasso)
Members of ‘Gerry’s Gang’ at the Making Strides Against Breast Cancer Walk, at Jones Beach Oct. 16 (LIR photo by Carissa Nasso)

Gerry’s Gang started walking in the annual Making Strides Against Cancer Walk at Jones Beach 11 years ago, the year she first was diagnosed. They have continued to do so each year.

“We are walking in memory of our very good friend, Gerry Shannon Lowery,” Mary Beth Della Rocca said. “We have been walking for 11 years; in fact back then, Gerry even did it with us.”

This year the walk took place Sunday Oct. 16. The state park estimates 55,000 people walked in the event. The proceeds totaled nearly $3m.

The walkers included survivors, as well as family members and friends of those who have died.

“I am a survivor for 20 years,” said Susan Wigdizinski, 50, who was supported by a group of some 50 walkers comprising ‘Team SuzieQ’.

Roberta Weinberg and Shari Rhian, 52, from Angels with Ribbons walked to celebrate their successful battles.

“This is my fifth year walking,” said Rhian. “I try to get as many people together each year since it is a wonderful event to raise awareness.”

Schools, businesses, civic groups and other organizations also walked to honor the lost. There were teams representing the Jericho High School Cheerleaders, the UFCW Local 1500, the Pink Ladies of Long Island, the Gent’s Club and the Ladies of Dodd from Dodd Middle School in Freeport and the Interact Club from Valley Stream North High School.

“I think it is very important to support a cause that affects so many Long Island women, especially since this is an all-girls team,” said Jenna Scroope, coach of the Jericho Cheerleaders.

The event is sponsored each year by the American Cancer Society. There are 22 walks across New York State during the month of October; there are many more across the country.


The following graphic shows several of the teams at various points during the walk. Click each pink marker to see a pictures of the teams.


Quotes from the walk

“We are walking for my mother Stella, and our friend Liz,” said Diane Attivissimo.

“We walk every year to show support from the union we work for.”  Jessica Goldstein from Local 1500

“We take this time to inform our children about breast cancer while raising money for research,” said Vashti Burke, Ladies of Dodd.

“We are walking for all the fighters and the survivors. And of course, in memory for those who lost.”  Dana Morgante from Valley Stream North High School’s Interact club, a non-profit club consisting of 9th-12th graders.

“We are walking for my mom who is luckily a breast cancer survivor.”  Brianna Torres, Valley Stream North High School, the Pink Ladies of L.I.