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The Ladies of Port Richmond Need Your Sneakers

Mary Louise Leuters has been living in Port Richmond with her husband Jerry for over 40 years. She spends most of her time and energy on her Presidential duties for “The Ladies of Port Richmond”. The Ladies are a local independent group with 501(c)(3) status working to increase Breast Cancer awareness through education and help fund research to find a Breast Cancer cure in our lifetime.

The Ladies of Port Richmond host several fundraisers throughout the year, from Communion Breakfasts to Comedy shows to a “Ladies’ Night Out”. Their biggest event by far though, now in its eighth year, is the Annual Port Richmond Breast Cancer Walk. In past years, the group has raised plenty of money for cancer research. Every year, the totals keep climbing as the Ladies rally more and more sponsors and walkers. This year’s walk looks to be bigger and more successful than ever.

The walk will take place on Sunday, May 20, 2012, 10AM, Rain or Shine at Monkiewicz Recreation Center (East Allegheny Avenue and Richmond Street). Neighbors who wish to register can do so through the Ladies’ website: www.ladiesofportrichmond.com/8thannualreg.html. Registrants can also sign up at Monkiewicz on Saturday, May 12 from 9 AM until 12:30 PM. The shirts for the event will be available at registration on the 12th.

“We need your sneakers! Tell people that they have to get out there!” said Mary Louise, as she sat at her kitchen table thumbing through photos from past walks. She looked through the photos with fond memories. Hundreds of neighbors from all walks of life populate these albums – everyone from State Representative John Taylor to the Phillie Phanatic to local motorcycle clubs get behind this cause. Let’s be honest, we have all lost someone, or know someone with cancer.

Mary Louise Leuters has a special reason to be in this fight, being a two-time survivor of breast cancer. Both times, she was treated successfully at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital. Mary Louise looks at life with a grateful and positive outlook. Aside from her work with the Ladies of Port Richmond, she also volunteers her time at the Bodine Center at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital to help others who are facing the same fight that she has fought in the past.

“I was thinking,” said Mary Louise Leuters, “I really want to talk about the sponsors, volunteers, the walkers and all the people who make this happen. I don’t want to talk about me.” This was the first time I had ever met Mary Louise, but I could tell it was that kind of humble and giving spirit that made this annual breast cancer walk such a huge success.

I asked Mary Louise to name some of her stand-out sponsors and volunteers. The list went on and on. She said that Debbie and Larry Ammons of the Port Richmond ShopRite have been huge supporters since its inception. Leuters also said the patrons, management and staff of the Thriftway in the Port Richmond Village are also great contributors. Port Richmond Pharmacy on Clearfield Street sponsors the group’s website.

As far as hospitals go, the medical organizations who receive support from the proceeds of the Port Richmond Cancer Walk and other Ladies’ fundraisers are some of the group’s greatest sponsors. Mary Louise said the group has excellent relationships with most local hospitals, such as Temple Health System, Jefferson Hospital, University of Pennsylvania Hospital, Fox Chase Cancer Center, and Nazareth Hospital. This year, Holy Redeemer came on board, and will be bringing workers from the hospital on the day of the walk. The doctors, nurses and technicians from local hospitals also come out to other Ladies’ events throughout the year and give advice to neighbors about treatment, prevention, and insurance issues.

The Ladies of Port Richmond’s board members are all unpaid volunteers who devote a great deal of time and effort to the fight against breast cancer:  Assistant Vice President Marie Contino, Assistant Vice President Pat Zamorski, Treasurer Angeline Zamorski, Assistant Vice President Marie McCafferty, Assistant Vice President Maureen Janda, Assistant Vice President Kim Lindsay and Recording Secretary Louise Holmes.

Mary Louise also said she has a great deal of help from friends Jackie Olinger and Delores Hart. She also said that one person who has been in her corner since the beginning is her husband Jerry. “I wouldn’t be able to do it without him,” she said sentimentally, “I wouldn’t be here right now if it wasn’t for him.”

Jerry chimed in, “We really need to get people to pay attention to this. With all the crime and bad news out there, they need to know about things like this.”

Mary Louise said that there is an enormous amount of support from all of the walkers, stating, “All of the people who walk from Port Richmond, Fishtown, and Bridesburg – they’re amazing.”

“I want walkers to do it for the people,” said Mary Louise Leuters, “It’s not what you get. It’s what you give.”

So how about it, amazing people? The Ladies of Port Richmond need your sneakers. Make sure to register for the Port Richmond Breast Cancer Walk on May 20th. To read more information about the Ladies’ group or the walk, visit their website: www.ladiesofportrichmond.com.

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