Members of the Southern California produce industry let their feet and legs do the talking when they turned out en masse Sunday, Oct. 25, to participate in the City of Hope's annual Walk For Hope, which raises money to fight and cure breast cancer.
Dubbed "Team Produce," more than 120 participants joined in the walk and/or participated in the event as volunteers. More than $60,000 worth of produce was donated to the event, all of which was passed out to many of the 9,000 people who walked in the beautiful Southern California sunshine.
Produce sponsors Apio Inc., Sambazon, Hollandia Produce, Jo-Vee Fruit Rolls, White Wave/Fruit2Day also raised the team donations another $11,000.
Spearheading Team Produce was Marty Craner, president of B&C Fresh Sales, who has been a passionate supporter of the City of Hope for a number of years. "The City of Hope gives our produce and floral industry a platform to show its generosity and compassion," Ms. Craner said. "It is a tremendous way to give back to our communities and for companies to demonstrate to their employees, shippers, customers and everyone around us their social responsibility and their kindness."
Numerous sponsors of the event echoed Ms. Craner's words, including Anne Fortuna of Hollandia Produce, who was at the event hours before the walk to pass out produce and gifts at the Hollandia booth. "The City of Hope Walk For Hope was truly an inspirational gathering commemorating and celebrating the lives of those who have lost the battle with breast cancer and those who struggle to overcome it," she said. "The overall dedication in unison of the volunteers who organized this event and those who participated proved there are powers in numbers - a power and will to find the cure."
Roger Schroeder, vice president of produce for Stater Bros. Markets, said, "It's so inspirational to see over 9,000 people come out on a Sunday to participate in the City of Hope Walk for Hope. When you get a chance to talk to the crowd, everyone has a friend or relative affected by cancer. It's a great feeling to just be a part of such a great day. Also, the money raised goes to a cause we are all very interested in: the treatment and search for a cure for cancer."
Kent Kuwata, a produce executive at the Smart & Final supermarket chain, said, "Words can't express the feeling I had to see over 9,000 people all participating for the one common goal: the cure of breast cancer. The smiles of the families and friends that were blessed by the City of Hope on saving a loved ones life, plus the tears of joy of those who lost a loved one, but seeing the support to cure to cancer. People in the produce industry are the greatest with free goods, but most of all they are the greatest with the time and energy they give. This was one of the most rewarding days of my life."
The day's events were aptly summed up best by Rick Cruz of Von's, who said, "You can see the will and determination on the faces of the thousands of people at the Walk for Hope to help find the cure and let this horrible disease know, 'You will not beat us.'"