By Aimee Taylor
This April, nearly 2,000 walkers and runners will gather in Brambleton to fight breast cancer. The 10th Annual Step Sisters’ Ribbon Run/Walk will take place on April 22. But this isn’t just another race. Where do the funds raised from this event go?
Many of us know that the color pink represents the fight against breast cancer. But not many realize there are in fact different ways to fight the disease. Some nonprofits work to fund vital research towards a cure. Still others raise funds for education and early detection.
The Ashburn-based group, The Step Sisters, has taken a different approach by supporting and strengthening those who are currently fighting the disease. The group understands firsthand the struggles that patients face and believe that no woman should have to delay or even stop treatment because of her personal or financial situation. Awareness is important, but so is action. That’s why The Step Sisters volunteers see themselves as a different shade of pink.
Their mission began in early 2014 at Inova Loudoun Hospital where they started providing support services to patients undergoing treatment. Today, the organization supports patients at five area hospitals, but expect that number to grow as it looks to support patients throughout Northern Virginia.
By carefully selecting and vetting area vendors, The Step Sisters is able to provide transportation, house cleaning, child care, fresh food/meal delivery and pet care for these patients. They also provide gift cards as needed. Each service is provided free of charge to the patient and is designed to decrease her day-to-day worries, eliminate any barriers to treatment and allow her to focus on her treatment and recovery.
“We meet with our partner hospitals several times a year,” explains Angela Fuentes, founder and co-executive director. “The nurses there are able to tell us what services the patients utilize most often, and what is still unmet. From there, we work to offer exactly what these patients need.”
From these meetings, the group has learned of some area women who are in crisis mode when their diagnosis comes. These women may be the sole earners in their families, and loss of work has had a severe financial impact. The group is working to set up a fund to help these women with whatever assistance they may need.
The group is also rolling out Chemo Care Bags, which will be distributed to patients undergoing chemotherapy for the first time. These bags contain items to both strengthen and prepare the patient for her treatment.
So why the name? Founder and Co-Executive Director Ashley Campolattaro explains, “Think of what a sister does when you need help. Maybe she watches your kids or cooks a meal for you. She knows what you need and just pitches in and helps.”
For more information about The Step Sisters, including ways to register for one of their events, go to stepsisters.org.
[Working for You is a rotating column providing space for Loudoun’s nonprofit leaders to let readers know what they do and how they can help the cause. To participate in the program, email firstname.lastname@example.org.]