By Rick Pezzullo—
Rita Rexhaj, owner of Marak Salon on Ashford Ave. in Dobbs Ferry, lost her mom and sister to cancer within three weeks in 2014.
During that time, she met Kathy Quinn, Executive Director of Support Connection, a nonprofit organization that offers free and confidential support services to people affected by breast, ovarian or gynecological cancer.
Rexhaj said Quinn helped her cope with her grief by providing a much-needed shoulder to lean on.
“Kathy was really helpful. I will do anything to support Kathy and Support Connection,” Rexhaj said.
Rexhaj will be one of the thousands of people who will participate in Support Connection’s annual Support-A-Walk on Sunday, October 1 at FDR State Park in Yorktown Heights.
Support-A-Walk, now in its 29th year, is the organization’s largest fundraiser. The financial goal of the walk is $250,000. Of every dollar donated, 88 cents directly funds services.
For the last 10 years, Rexhaj has raised between $700 and $1,000 at the walk by doing pink extensions for girls and women.
On October 21, between 3 and 5 p.m. at her salon, Rexhaj also be doing pink extensions and donating all proceeds to Support Connection.
“To me it’s the most beautiful thing. People get together and they talk about their loved ones. It’s just an amazing thing,” Rexhaj said of the walk. “I lost clients to cancer and that breaks my heart. I felt I wanted to do something to help. People are very generous about Support Connection.”
Ida Doctor, a resident of Tarrytown, is a breast and ovarian cancer survivor. She got involved with Support Connection after she retired and volunteered at Fantastic Finds, a store in Chappaqua that benefits Support Connection.
She is now on the organization’s Board of Directors.
“They really provide an invaluable service,” Doctor said. “Women speak so highly of the services they have received. I’m just amazed at the kind of support they get.”
Doctor attend Support-A-Walk for the first time in 2022 and was impressed with the turnout and positive vibes.
“I think it was kind of overwhelming to see all those people at the walk,” she said. “I didn’t realize how many survivors there are who come back each year. It’s really a great event.”
In addition to the adults and youngsters who walk at FDR Park, people will be walking in neighborhoods nationwide Sunday for Support Connection. Over the last few years, people have walked in more than 25 states.
“Each year as we prepare for the Support-A-Walk, I reflect on the incredible Power of Caring,” Quinn said. “The Support-A-Walk continues to be the engine that keeps our organization running. It truly is a remarkable event that brings out the best in people. When we opened our doors in 1996, little did we realize how many lives we would touch. As our mission statement reflects, we help change fear to hope. Years later our dedicated professional peer counselors have offered help and support to over 12,000 individuals as well as their families and friends. I am so grateful for every step our walkers take and to everyone who donates to the Walk. The impact they make is tremendous.”
Pre-walk activities kickoff at 9 a.m., while the walk starts promptly at 10 a.m. To learn more about the Support-A-Walk, or to donate or participate, visit www.supportconnection.org/support-a-walk, or contact Support Connection: 914-962-6402 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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