By Brandi Wylie ’24, student intern
It’s a busy time of year for Lauren Scalise ’24. She’s juggling her academic work, serving as a team manager for the Wofford College women’s basketball team and editing the Bohemian, the college’s yearbook.
She also has the role of chief financial officer with her family’s nonprofit, Strides for Survivors: Steps to Breast Cancer Rehabilitation.
Scalise’s family first started talking about the idea for a nonprofit in 2016, when her mom and grandmother were diagnosed with breast cancer within a year of each other. She was the only person with her mother when she received the diagnosis, and the retelling of the story for a high school project is what sparked the family’s desire to do something.
“I couldn’t just sit back anymore,” says Scalise, an environmental studies major from Atlanta, Georgia.
Her mom’s journey led her to TurningPoint, a nonprofit rehabilitation center in Atlanta that focuses primarily on the aftercare of breast cancer survivors. The facility’s services include physical therapy, Pilates, nutrition talks, mental health awareness, one-on-one massages and more. This facility has helped Stephanie Scalise, Lauren’s mom, to get back to herself.
“She’s a go-getter. She does everything on her own. She’s a very strong and independent woman,” Scalise says. “To have her go through something like this, where she had to reach out for help, was difficult for her and the family as a whole.”
It is because of this that the mission of Strides for Survivors is to raise money for TurningPoint.
“Giving back to the organization that gave us our mom back just seemed like the least that we could do,” Scalise says.
The organization’s primary fundraiser is an annual walk in Atlanta along a 2.7-mile track that Scalise’s mom walked during her journey through cancer recovery. Over the past five years, the organization has raised $48,500 through its annual walk.
Juggling all of her commitments is no easy feat, and Scalise emphasizes the importance of having a family support system and dividing the work across a year’s span. Even with that strategy, she acknowledges that with the nonprofit’s main event being in the first week of February, January is always the busiest time for her.
This year, the walk will be held on Feb. 5. It will be a hybrid event, offering people all over the country the opportunity to walk their own path and send in pictures. Everyone who registers, including virtual attendees, will get a gift bag with a T-shirt, pink shoelaces, a pencil and many other goodies.
As team manager for the women’s basketball team, she has the opportunity to share information about her family’s nonprofit with the team. She receives overwhelming support from these young women.
“Choosing to support Strides for Survivors was such an easy decision knowing how much time and effort she has invested in our program, but also the core initiative of the nonprofit – to help women and families going through the tough journey of breast cancer,” says Elena Pulanco ’22, a triple major in art history, sociology and anthropology and studio art from Englewood, New Jersey, and a guard on the women’s basketball team.
Lilly Hatton ’23, a biology major from Georgetown, Indiana, and a forward on the team, expressed similar sentiments.
“As a team, we try to support one another in any way possible, and Lauren’s nonprofit is such a worthy cause,” Hatton says. “When Lauren told us about the Strides for Survivors annual walk and all the work that goes into running a nonprofit, several of us decided to offer our time and efforts helping out.”
For more information or to register for the walk, visit https://www.stridesforsurvivors.org.