The Art Expression Tent at Race for the Cure: Wishing for a World Without Breast Cancer

Our blogger Olivia Bonevento recently shared why she is motivated to end breast cancer forever. At this year’s Race for the Cure, Olivia saw firsthand wishes for a world without breast cancer come to life.

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Photo by Astha Bajpai

Sunday, November 5, 2017 marked the annual Susan G. Komen Central and South Jersey Race for the Cure at Six Flags Great Adventure. The passion of all involved was infectious: many were clad in pink, teams were banding together to “end breast cancer forever,” and although emotional for some, smiles appeared everywhere on the faces in the crowd.

One group of people stood out on Sunday — the team behind the moving Art Expression Tent, sponsored by Mercer County Community College. The Art Expression Tent, located near the stage, had a goal in mind when they came to this event: to bring hope through artistic expression. They wanted people to unite through art, and they did just that with their wish tree, generously donated by Timothy’s Garden Center in Robbinsville.

Race for the Cure attendees were encouraged to write their wishes for a world without breast cancer on a piece of paper provided, and then hang it onto the tree, which will be planted on the Mercer County Community College campus. It was a sentimental sight to see the hope and love people had wished for together.

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Photo by Astha Bajpai

Jane Zamost, a studio artist and healing artist at Capital Health Medical Center in Hopewell, came up with the idea for the “wish tree” and banner to inspire hope and encourage participants to join together.

There were many phenomenal individuals of Mercer County Community College behind this project, including Dr. Alex Salas, Dean of Innovation, Online Education and Student Success; Dr. Latonya Ligon, Director of the Center for Retention and Completion, Jill Marcus, MercerOnline Coordinator, and Michelle Hoffman, Coordinator and Development Assistant.

Michelle is a two-time survivor of breast cancer. She was diagnosed for the first time in 2009, and for the second time in 2014. She is the event coordinator for the foundation at Mercer County Community College, and when she met Suzanne Corson, executive director of Komen CSNJ, last year, she felt “an instant connection.” They then went on to connect with Alex, and the Art Expression Tent was born.

“It is so amazing to see people write wishes for a world without breast cancer,” said Michelle. “As team leader, it’s really powerful to witness people write on the tree, whether it is wish for themselves, for a loved one, or for the world.”

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Photo by Astha Bajpai

Coming to the Race for the Cure for the second year in a row as a Komen CSNJ intern, I have seen firsthand how everything connects, from the merchandise tent to the selfie booth, from the survivor tent to the art expression tent. I especially felt the connection between the wishing tree and the moment we held hands at the event — a symbol of solidarity, of love, of compassion, of banding together for a world without breast cancer.

That is what the Komen mission is all about. At Komen CSNJ, we are all about saving lives, ensuring quality care for all, energizing science to find a cure, and empowering people. Empowerment is at the root of it all — it is the key component to having hope and making change.

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Photo by Stephen Ferst

As I stood at the Race for the Cure, holding hands with a stranger, looking back at the wish tree and listening to “I’m Gonna Love You Through It” play through the speakers, hope filled my body to the brim.

Thanks to the incredible support of Mercer County Community College team, and all Race for the Cure participants and fundraisers, Komen CSNJ is one step closer to ending breast cancer forever.

We’ve surpassed our fundraising goal of $500,000 — and we aren’t stopping now. Click here to get involved and help us continue to raise money for the fight against breast cancer.

Olivia Bonevento is a featured guest blogger for Komen CSNJ. She lives at the Jersey Shore and is currently a student at a liberal arts college in Pennsylvania. Read more about Olivia on her personal blog — oliviabonevento.wordpress.com.

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Our mission is to save lives by meeting the most critical needs in our communities and investing in breakthrough research to prevent & cure breast cancer.

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