Mary Lou Bonczkowski, of Evans, and her daughter, Tiffany Nolla, aren't just going the extra mile to help eradicate breast cancer.
They're walking the length of a marathon-and-a-half to raise money to stamp out the disease.
Bonczkowski and Nolla, a 1999 Evans High School graduate and Marine stationed at Twentynine Palms Marine Corps Base in California, plan to participate in the 39.3-mile Avon Walk for Breast Cancer in Los Angeles on Sept. 16-17.
"We're doing this because my mother had breast cancer and she is a four-year survivor and my grandmother died of breast cancer," Bonczkowski said.
Her mother, Rose Zank, of Augusta, was diagnosed with breast cancer in July 2001 and had a mastectomy in August 2001. She later endured five months of chemotherapy and 12 radiation therapy treatments, Bonczkowski said.
Zank has been cancer free since 2002. Zank's mother, Bonczkowski's grandmother, died of the disease at age 43, leaving behind a husband and 10 children, Bonczkowski said.
"The biggest thing is getting the word out (about) early detection," Bonczkowski said. "That's how my mother's was found. She had a mammogram every year and it didn't show up in 2000, but it did in 2001."
Bonczkowski said she and her daughter wanted to participate in a walk somewhere in the Southeast, but couldn't because Nolla's husband, who also is a Marine, recently returned from deployment in Iraq and her daughter didn't have enough leave to take a trip across the country.
Instead, the pair found the Avon walk in Los Angeles, which has attracted 37,000 participants and has raised more than $100 million for research, education and to expand access to care for the poor since 2003, according to an Avon Foundation news release.
To get there, the pair must raise $1,800 each, not including Bonczkowski's airfare, she said.
In Los Angeles, the "Tulip Girls," as they call themselves, will meet and walk with thousands of other survivors and supporters, sleeping overnight in a tent decorated with tulips to distinguish it from thousands of other blue tents, Bonczkowski said.
"It's going to be a very emotional time, but I expect to make a lot of great friends," she said, adding she's worked her way up to six miles a day and is working on adding strength despite being stricken early in life with juvenile arthritis.
Zank said she's proud of her daughter and granddaughter and wishes she could walk with them in Los Angeles, but can't because of her health.
"I feel wonderful (about the walk), very grateful," she said. "I'll root for them from here."
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