Just warming up : Barbara Ireland Walk for the Cure of Breast Cancer gives locals chance to raise awareness


Barbara Ireland addresses participants at last year’s 10-mile walk in her name. Proceeds from the annual event, which takes place Saturday, benefit local breast cancer research.



Last year, 250 people participated in the Barbara Ireland Walk for the Cure of Breast Cancer. Mrs. Ireland said she expects the number to be up this year.




March 15, 2011 7:44 AM

There’s no cure yet, but women with breast cancer are living longer.

The challenge is “you need a cure for every single thing that can go wrong with a cell,” said Barbara Conviser, director of research and quality services at the Cancer Center of Santa Barbara. “But absolutely, people are living longer. That’s the easiest way to prove we’re making a difference.”

More money for the center’s research will be raised during the 11th annual Barbara Ireland Walk for the Cure of Breast Cancer Saturday at Chase Palm Park, 236 E. Cabrillo Blvd.

Walkers on the 10-mile trek, which starts at 8:30 a.m., stay on Cabrillo Boulevard as they go west to La Mesa Park and then circle back east to Andree Clark Bird Refuge. From there, they head west again to return to Chase Palm Park.

It’s literally a circle of life. Newly diagnosed patients participate in the event and become inspired when they see other walkers who have survived for many years with breast cancer, said Isabelle Patton, 68, who learned she had the disease in 2009. She was treated at the Cancer Center, where she worked as an oncology nurse before her retirement five years ago.

“I’m doing great!” the Santa Barbara resident said. She has participated in the walk for four years with the Santa Barbara Gals, a hiking club.

Many of the walkers have friends or family members who have survived the disease or have died from it, said Santa Barbara resident Barbara Ireland, the walk founder who works with the Cancer Center to organize it.

The fundraising goal always is $100,000, but between $50,000 to $75,000 has been raised each year, Ms. Conviser said. She noted the event has become more popular over the years.

So far, the walk has raised a total of $300,963 for the center.

Mrs. Ireland, 69, started the walk in 2001 in memory of her friend Jan, who died from breast cancer, and originally the money went to the Dr. Susan Love Research Foundation. The Cancer Center became the beneficiary in 2006.

The fundraising has helped the Cancer Center hold clinical trials for the latest therapies for cancers in stages 0 through 4 — from early detection to those that have spread to another organ, Ms. Conviser said.

As of last week, 185 people had signed up for this year’s walk.

Mrs. Ireland said she expects attendance will be up this year from 2010 when 250 people walked. As usual, her husband, John, and their daughters — model-turned-entrepreneur Kathy Ireland, Cynthia Ireland and Mary Ireland — will participate.

Teams represent businesses, clubs, nonprofits and medical facilities, and their names vary from Bosom Buddies to Energetic Souls, Mrs. Ireland said. She added that many people walk year after year and come from as far as England. “I think they really like the family-friendly feel of the walk. It’s not too intimidating. They can go at their own pace. I wanted to have a simple walk.”

Mrs. Ireland said she sees her walk and the larger Avon Walk for Breast Cancer, which moved to Santa Barbara last fall from Los Angeles, as complementing each other, not competing.

They happen months apart, and the Avon Walk, scheduled this year for Sept. 17-18, isn’t taking participants away from the Barbara Ireland Walk for the Cure of Breast Cancer, Mrs. Ireland said. “I’ve heard people say they do our walk as a warm-up for the Avon Walk.”

Mrs. Ireland emphasized that all of the money raised during her walk remains in Santa Barbara.

As for the Avon Walk, which raised more than $6.4 million and drew more than 2,800 participants last year, “The majority of the money stays in Southern California,” said Karen Margolis, a spokeswoman for the Avon Foundation.

An Avon Foundation list of beneficiaries for its 2010 fundraising showed two Santa Barbara agencies. The nonprofit gave the Cancer Center of Santa Barbara a $100,000 grant for a navigation program guiding cancer patients through their medical, social and financial affairs and a $25,000 grant to the Breast Cancer Resource Center of Santa Barbara. (Ms. Conviser said the Cancer Center plans to apply again for the grant this year.)

Outside of the area, the foundation has given more than $5.8 million to the UCLA Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center since 2005. Ms. Conviser described it as a major research partner of the Cancer Center of Santa Barbara.

Mrs. Ireland noted the presence of both the Avon Walk for Breast Cancer and her event means a lot is being said locally about cancer. “It’s always good to have that attention so people are aware of breast cancer. That’s not a bad thing.”



The 11th annual Barbara Ireland Walk for the Cure of Breast Cancer will take place Saturday at Chase Palm Park, 236 E. Cabrillo Blvd. Registration is at 7 a.m. and the walk begins at 8:30 a.m., followed by lunch, a celebration and raffle at 10:30 a.m. There’ll also be a silent auction.

Entry fee for the walk is $50 before Thursday and $60 after that. Children 12 and under enter for $20. To sign up, go to For more information, call Stephanie Carlyle at the Cancer Center of Santa Barbara at 898-2116.