Five women from Wrangell and one from Juneau are headed to Seattle this weekend for the Susan G. Komen 3-Day event. It’s a 60-mile walk to raise awareness about breast cancer and money for research.
Three women are standing at a table. The sign behind them reads:
“The Wrangell Blue Footed Boobies are gearing up for the 2013 Susan G. Komen 3-day challenge. Please help us get there with your donations. Thank you for your commitment to the fight against breast cancer. We love you Wrangell.”
Tyla Nelson and the other Blue Footed Boobies are putting a tasty twist on fundraising. They’ve set up shop outside a local grocery store and they’re selling homemade bagels.
Beth Heller points to tins stacked high with poppyseed, Craisin, cinnamon raisin, sesame, plain and everything bagels. Heller says they’ve already sold out of the parmesan and onion.
Beth Comstock is the team captain. She has dyed pink hair and a bubbly smile.
She says her team has faced both emotional and financial hurdles leading up to the event.
“To be able to walk in the Susan G. Komen walks, you have to raise a minimum of $2300 per person. So not only is it a substantial physical commitment, it’s a substantial monetary commitment when you sign that paper that says ‘I want to be a walker,'” says Comstock.
That’s a whopping $11,500 for a team of five. Comstock says they had to come up with a creative way to fund it.
In a town with few restaurants and even fewer grocery stores, some food is hard to come by. Fresh, homemade bagels were nowhere to be found, until now.
“We decided to have a bake sale and at that one we had 50 bagels and 40 loaves of bread. And we discovered that Wrangell loves homemade bagels and so the next week was 100 bagels. And then we’ve done two weeks now of 150 bagels,” says Comstock.
Nearly everyone who passes the table stops to buy one, or at the very least, is intrigued by the familiar scent. This morning, they’ve sold 80 in just the first hour.
Nelson says they may sell fast, but it takes a long time to make them.
“We start at nine o’clock in the morning and we make sponges. Yesterday we made 12 sponges. They sit for two hours and then we rotate them through the Kitchen-Aids, pumping out doughs. Then they rise for another two to four hours and then we form them into balls. They rise for another 20 minutes. We form them into bagels. They rise for another 20 minutes. We boil them and then top them and then back them. We started at nine o’clock yesterday morning and we finished at nine-thirty yesterday evening,” Nelson explains.
But Comstock says there is a serious reason she and her teammates have put this much time and effort into this event.
“I’m high risk. I discovered a few years ago that I’m high risk for breast cancer. I can deal with that for me and myself, but I have a daughter. I have three daughters and I have two granddaughters. And I want them to be able to live in a world that’s free of breast cancer so they don’t have to have that fear hanging over their heads,” says Comstock.
When I talked to the Blue Footed Boobies, they were only $100 short of their nearly $12,000 goal. Since then, they’ve made that and more.
Comstock, Nelson, and Heller are walking with Megan Clark and Erin Anderson. They’ve also gained a new team member. Juneau’s Jennifer Thorne is joining them as a first-time walker.
Now, the Blue Footed Boobies on their way to Seattle. They’ll walk 60 miles around the city from September 20th to 22nd., at a grueling pace of 20 miles per day.
But, Comstock says, she hopes those 60 miles will bring everyone one step closer to finding a cure for breast cancer.
And, even though this year’s walk hasn’t even started, they’re already planning for next fall.
The challenge is the same, but their team name is changing to highlight this group’s unique approach. Next year, they’ll be: Bagels for Boobies.