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Two friends walk for a cure

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news Bemidji, 56619
Bemidji Minnesota P.O. Box 455 56619

Julie Geerdes and Donna Bradseth have been best friends for more than 30 years. Having both survived breast cancer, these two have been through a lot together. This year, they have raised enough money to participate in the Susan G. Komen foundation's 60-mile walk to help find a cure for breast cancer.

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The foundation was started by Komen's sister, Nancy Brinker. Brinker made a promise to her sister, who was dying of breast cancer, that she would do everything she could to end the disease.

In 1982, Brinker started a movement that has since become the largest source of nonprofit funds dedicated to the fight against breast cancer in the world. Several cities around the United States hold an annual walk to raise money in hopes of finding a cure.

With the support of their family, friends and the community, Geerdes and Bradseth will participate in the walk in the Twin Cities Aug. 20-22.

Geerdes was diagnosed with breast cancer seven years ago. She went through six treatments of chemotherapy before she was cancer free.

Bradseth was diagnosed a year ago and was lucky enough to rid the cancer with surgery and avoided any treatments.

"I was with Julie when I got the call that I had cancer," Bradseth said. "Thank God I was with her. She is my rock. She went through a lot more than I did."

Last fall, the two women started fundraising to be part of this walk.

"My nephew's wife decided to have a team and be the captain," Bradseth said. "I said I would do it if Julie did, too. Each person on a team -- our team has five members -- has to raise $2,300."

Both women agreed raising money for the event wasn't an easy task.

"The support we received was tremendous," Geerdes said. "We also helped and supported each other."

"There were a number of ladies who wanted to and did help us above and beyond what we expected," Bradseth said. "It was and they are wonderful."

Bradseth said that her daughter, who is also a team member and who lives in Colorado, started making dog hats and sold them and raised $700 on the hats alone.

During the walk, pink tents will be set up for the participants and they move every night to a different location. During the three day walk, those partaking in the event will walk 20 miles each day in three-mile increments, with refreshment stops at the end of each. Sunday will host a big family closing ceremony.

"I've heard from everybody who I know have been involved with this walk, that it is one of the most tremendous experiences," Bradseth said.

Bradseth said that this entire process has taken a lot of time and energy and she is proud to see the work they've done and is anticipating the walk.

"This has been a huge undertaking," Geerdes agreed. "Everyone's support is very much appreciated. We couldn't have done with without everyone."

With all they've accomplished so far, Bradseth and Geerdes are excited and ready to help find a cure for the disease they're both proud to say they beat.

"This experience has made us more than friends," Bradseth said through tears. "I'm thankful for every minute of it."

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