Tolland resident Mary Ailes hasn't had anyone in her personal life who has been affected by breast cancer, but that hasn't stopped her from devoting her time to fighting the disease.
"I saw a girl once wearing a T-shirt that said, 'My mom's walking so I can wear pink ribbons in my hair and not my shirt,'" Ailes recalled. "I have two daughters, and I decided that I wanted to do something."
And Ailes has kept busy! She began her work with breast cancer awareness as a participant in the 2011 New York City Avon Walk for Breast Cancer. The marathon spans an entire weekend and requires that each walker raise at least $1,800 to participate.
"It's not just your normal 5K," Ailes said. She and the other participants walked through the city, camping overnight in pink tents.
"It's just this sea of pink," she said. Ailes soon found that the breast cancer awareness is tight-knit; on the train ride down to the city a veteran participant invited her to join her team, "The Jiggles," for the event.
The impact of breast cancer truly hit home for her though during the closing ceremony.
"They bring in all of the volunteers, and then they bring in all of the survivors," Ailes said. "It hits you the most to see all of the people that have beat it."
With the New York walk behind her, Ailes is gearing up for her next big endeavor: the Avon Walk for Breast Cancer in Boston. She is currently fundraising for the May 2013 event, which will kick off with a beer tasting at the Thomas Hooker Brewery in Bloomfield.
For more information on breast cancer awareness and the Avon Walk for Breast Cancer, visit the organization's website. To follow Ailes' progress, 'like' her page on Facebook.