Physical Therapy Students Support Nashville’s More Than Pink Walk

PT Student Volunteers

On Oct. 26 more than 5,000 people came out to the Maryland Farms YMCA to support the fight against breast cancer. The weather for Saturday’s Susan G. Komen More Than Pink Walk was rainy, but that did not dampen the enthusiasm for a wonderful celebration of survivors and a great fundraiser to help end breast cancer. The Belmont University School of Physical Therapy again brought over 120 student volunteers to the event to assist with village/course setup and takedown, to serve as walk marshals at the start/finish line and throughout the course, to hand out water and bananas at the finish, and to help manage the crowd.

School of Physical Therapy Program Chair Gary Austin said, “To see our physical therapy students come together as one is a true blessing. I was able to watch them step up in their volunteer effects on multiple levels. From getting the start/finish line finalized to helping ‘pump up the crowd’ when they joined in on the Village dance party and then lead the survivors to the starting line.  The students were amazing as they cheered on the walkers and survivors as they cross the finish line. We all truly enjoy these moments because we get to remember that we can make a difference in many ways, even by just helping at events to support an important cause.”

Physical Therapy Professor Dr. Michael Voight, who serves on the Susan G Komen Board of Directors, was co-race course chairman for this year’s More Than Pink Walk. Voight says that he initially chose to support Komen because of the fact that up to 75% of net proceeds raised remain in the affiliate service area. The remaining 25% goes towards lifesaving research in all areas of breast cancer, from basic biology to prevention to treatment to survivorship. The funds raised are vital to providing screening mammograms, diagnostic testing and treatment support through annual Community Grants Programs. The community grant program helps to provide funding to other local nonprofits and researchers. Voight says, “These nonprofits and researchers are working on the front lines to battle breast cancer, educating both women and men on the value of early detection and promoting awareness to low-income and non-insured individuals. To date Komen Greater Nashville has provided more than 397 grants totaling $10.1 million in screening, treatment and educational services to the women of Middle Tennessee. By giving resources, we can help them eradicate this problem.” 

To put on an event of this magnitude requires a lot of advance planning and work.  While the planning began months before the walk, the real work begins the week of the walk.  Students assisted early in the week at the storage facility through packing and loading of supplies into cargo trucks.  As the walk drew near, many showed up the day before the race and worked on last minute preparations for the walk. Then on the day of the walk, over 120 students showed up at 7 a.m. to begin final preparations for the day. Voight stated, “I was truly amazed at the work going on long before participants started coming in, everyone was working hard in the rain on finishing the last minute preparations. This was no small effort. However, when I saw those hundreds of survivors that had walked in the race and were so happy to have finished, it made it all worthwhile. It was one more victory against this disease. This would not have happened had it not been for all help provided by the students from Belmont.” 

Adjunct professor, Belmont School of PT alumni and More Than Pink course co-chair Ashley Campbell had this to say: “I began my involvement with SGK Race for the Cure 10 years ago as a 3rd year PT student. I had no idea at the time that this would become a passion for me, but you’d be hard pressed to find an individual who has not been directly affected by breast cancer these days, and that is a problem. SGK is committed to finding a cure, and in the meantime provides crucial education and prevention to those who need it most. I am honored to be a Belmont PT Alumni, and each year that I have been involved the PT students continue to impress me more and more.” 

Student leader Beau Kovach concluded, “Sometimes when we are in classes and constantly studying, we lose sight of why we wanted to be a part of this profession. This is my third year of involvement, and I am reminded at all of our volunteering events, but especially the More Than Pink Walk, that this is why I wanted to be a physical therapist in the first place. We are here to serve, to help promote a healthier and more positive world in any way we can.”