Walkers can opt for shorter route in marathon fundraiser

By KATHLEEN EDGECOMB

Erin Gizio with her mother, Jayne Kivlin (1947-2017)

When the inaugural 5K walk around Camp Harkness for the Terri Brodeur Breast Cancer Foundation kicks off Oct. 5, leading the walkers will be Erin Gizio, who lost her mother to metastasized breast cancer in 2017.

Erin and Eva Gizio will walk the October 5 TBBCF 5K

Erin Gizio with her daughter, Eva

Gizio, who suggested TBBCF include a shorter walk in its annual marathon fundraiser, said she is excited to be part of the first 5K. In giving birth to her daughter, Gizio fractured her pelvis, and since then has been unable to run or walk long distances. In October, her 6-year-old daughter Eva will be walking with her in loops around Camp Harkness.

“I’m really excited about this new fun event,” she said. “I hope to grab a part of the community that can’t do even the quarter marathon.”

She is the co-leader of the walk with Gabby Tudisca, a volunteer and a former intern at the foundation.

The walk, which is just over three miles on a paved path around Camp Harkness, is open to children and pets on leashes. The fundraising commitment is $150 and walkers have until Dec. 31 to raise the money. Cancer survivors and students 12-22 must commit to raising $100. The registration fee is $30. Information on the fundraiser can be found at https://www.tbbcf.org/.

Gizio hopes to tap into a part of the community that believes in the TBBCF mission of donating 100 percent of fundraising dollars directly to cancer research, but don’t have the time or the ability to walk in the foundation’s signature fundraiser: a full marathon, a half or quarter marathon.

“This new walk is a way to involve families and allows us to offer something for everyone,” said Amy Caster, TBBCF development and outreach director. “It will allow more people to participate.”

Caster said her 12-year-old daughter Grace has signed up for the walk and is raising money.

“I hope this fosters something in young people to get them to participate,” she said. “Hopefully we grow a new generation of walkers who will be involved.”

To date, the foundation has raised more than $4.4 million dollars and has awarded research grants to 44 physicians and scientists who are studying breast cancer cures and treatments.

Gizio has had a connection for years with TBBCF through its co-founder Sandy Maniscalco. Her mother, Jayne Kivlin and Maniscalco were friends and co-workers at Pfizer Inc. When Gizio was a youngster, Maniscaclo and her husband Phil would take Gizio and her brother to fun runs on the weekends.

“It was awesome,” Gizio recalled during a break from her job at People’s United Bank in Norwich. “The joke was I ran faster uphill than downhill. I was just so excited to run a race.”

Gizio lost touch with the Maniscalcos, but when her mother was diagnosed with breast cancer, they found each other again.

“My mom wanted to reconnect with people who meant something to her,” she said.

Maniscalco asked her to get involved with the foundation, and after Jayne Kivlin died in October 2017 following a three-year battle with metastasized breast cancer, Gizio pledged to do “anything” for TBBCF. But being unable to walk great distances she was limited. That’s when she suggested a shorter walk.

“Sandy is loving, amazing and supportive and I’m grateful to help her and be part of the foundation,” she said. “It’s an amazing cause and I’m proud to be part of it.”

She is calling her walk team Jayne’s Yogis, in honor of her mother, who she said was a vegetarian, practiced yoga and followed a healthy lifestyle.