10th annual BCA Walk

The walkers pose with the sign before leaving Chilkoot Trail Outpost

Walk weathers the rain: $14,000 raised, and counting

Story and Photos by Ardyce Czuchna-Curl

Seventy walkers raised more than $8,000 during the 10th annual Fran DeLisle Breast Cancer Awareness Fund (FDBCAF) Walk-a-Thon from Dyea to Skagway on June 4.
An additional $1,000 of pre-walk donations came in, and the silent auction that afternoon netted $5,000, making a total of $14,000 raised over the weekend.
“More funds are coming in,” said Virginia Long, treasurer of
FDBCAF. “Last year the Walk-a-Thon brought in more than $23,000; and donations totaling $27,000 were distributed.”
Fifty-four adults and 16 children walked the course this year.
Some ran. Some walked. Some walked their dogs. Sidney Shaw, counselor for Lynn Canal Counseling, ran the course in about 50 minutes. Several took nearly three hours to complete the course, but most appeared to enjoy the event in spite of the rainy weather. Fifteen non-walkers paid the registration fee as well.
A couple dozen volunteers worked on registrations, food coordination, clean-up, refreshment stops and other activities.
The $20 registration for the walk included a t-shirt and a meal at the Elks. Registration fee was waived for the 11 walkers who presented $250 in sponsorships. S.M. A. R. T. buses took participants to the starting point in Dyea; kids under 16 walked free; the Elks provided lunch; and local massage therapists offered complimentary massages.
Walkers who collected $250 also qualified for the drawings of special prizes such as a helicopter tour and a $100 savings bond.
Allison Wilson of Skagway Mercantile collected $1,455.
“She is our top pledge getter,” Long said. “She knows a lot of cruise people and she collects from people all over the Lower 48. She’s still collecting more. Each year she usually collects about $2,000.”

Walk coordinator Candace Cahill dispenses juice for walkers; Vanessa Flynn gets ready to go; and the walkers set off from Dyea.

Vanessa Flynn, manager of the Alaska Shoppe, who won a TEMSCO heli-tour, brought in $335. “I’ve always raised at least $250 and I do the entire course,” Flynn said. “One of my sisters was diagnosed with breast cancer at age 25 about a dozen years ago. She’s okay now, but that got me started, and I’ve done the walk every year.”
Youngsters, too, solicited money. Ten-year-old Elena Saldi brought in $160. Thirteen year-olds Emily Herbig and Paige Hahn together collected $465.
The Walk-A-Thon was conceived by Fran DeLisle, a former Skagway resident and breast cancer survivor, who now lives in Kodiak.
FDBCAF monies can be awarded to Skagway residents in financial need. They are used to defer costs of treatment, follow-up care, or other expenses associated with treatment and prevention of cancer such as mammograms, Pap smear exams and screenings for prostate cancer.
Since 1997 the FDBCAF has assisted 209 Skagway residents.
“We couldn’t have done this without the help of the entire community,” added Long. “Merchants and other community members donate money, gifts for the silent auction, and food for the meal. Our administrative expenses are under eight percent because so much is donated.
“About 92 percent of what comes in goes back into the community.”
Long explained that the Eagles and Elks were the original sponsors of FDBCAF, but now the organization is working to obtain its own non-profit status and are currently within a determination (probation) period.


Eileen Henry, daughter of cancer survivor Lou Caposey, has a blood sample drawn by Jennifer Sellen, phlebotomist during the Blood Marrow Drive in Skagway in conjunction with the Fran Delisle Cancer Awareness Walk last weekend. In the background is Eddie Quinto, volunteer firefighter and paramedic from Juneau.

Bone Marrow Drive attracts donors
At least 21 Skagway residents participated in the first statewide bone marrow drive Saturday, June 4. The mini clinic was set up in the Elks Lodge to coincide with the Fran Delisle Cancer Awarness Walk-A-Thon.
Individuals must be 18 to 61 years to participate. Initial screening requires drawing only one tablespoon of blood and the participant’s permission to be on the National Bone Marrow Registry. The blood goes into the registry and the prospective donor is called when a match is made.
“Bone marrow transfusions may cause good cells to grow and perhaps cause the cancer to go into remission,” said Jennifer Sellen, phlebotomist.
She said nine children in Southeast Alaska currently are awaiting bone marrow transplants. Some are in Seattle Children’s Hospital.
Sellen encourages people to participate “because it’s difficult to find a match for children who need the bone marrow,” she said.