Tuesday, October 25, 2011

You Done Good Girl!: Abbie Vicknair of Remember Betty Talks to BGLU About the Race for the Cure

Abbie Vicknair
October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month so BGLU thought it would be a great idea to feature one of our readers who has taken great strides in the fight against breast cancer.  Abbie Vicknair, fellow longtime Blockhead (New Kids on the Block fan) went from being a fan in the stands to a fan in action when she decided to join Remember Betty in the fight against breast cancer.  She is now their coordinator and captain of their various Team Betty teams within the US. Remember Betty was started by New Kids on the Block’s Danny Wood, whose mother Betty Wood passed away in 1999 from breast cancer.  BGLU talked with Abbie about Remember Betty, Race for the Cure, and what happens when Blockheads unite for a great cause.
BGLU: Tell us about how Remember Betty got started, Abbie. 

Danny Wood and his late mother Betty Wood

Abbie: Danny Wood started Remember Betty as a way to keep his mother's memory alive because he didn’t want her passing (due to breast cancer) to be in vain.  It originally started off with Danny's solo career and proceeds from certain shows would be donated to different charities. Eventually it was rolled into the Susan G. Komen Foundation and now all of our actions are focused towards Komen events (Race for the Cure 5K and 3 Day Marathons, Passionately Pink Parties).

BGLU: And these are year round, right? These aren't just in October?
Abbie: No these are year round. October is the big month that everybody knows about. The first Race for the Cure is in January and the last one is in November.

BGLU: How did you get involved?
Abbie: I got involved in 2009.  I went to a New Kids show in Houston. Danny was at the end of the show talking about his mom, Team Betty, and how grateful he was to fans for raising so much money.  He got very emotional onstage talking about it.  On the flight back to Nashville I knew I wanted to be a part of it. We didn't have a Nashville Team Betty so I went on the local affiliate site and signed up to start the team for Nashville and we did the 5k race that year.  In 2010 I wanted to do a little more so I signed up for the 3 day marathon in Boston.  The 3 day is a 60 mile walk over 3 days. Later I went on to do the 5k in Miami.

BGLU: How long do you train for the 3 Day?
Abbie: They have a 24 week schedule and a 16 week schedule. Most people do the 24 week schedule.  By the end of the training period you are doing a 17 mile walk 3 days in a row. So the first day of the 3 day you do about 20 miles, the second you do about 22 and the last day you do about 17 and 18. So you’re walking about 10 hours a day.

BGLU: And what are some of the things you have done to raise money for Team Betty?
Abbie: I've done eBay auctions of New Kids memorabilia: the lunch boxes, the plush dolls all of those things that we thought our moms threw away that I'm really luck that they didn’t.  We’ve done bake sales,and yard sales. One of the teams just auctioned off Danny's personalized Celtics jersey that he wore on the NKOTBSB tour and it auctioned for $6000.

BGLU: Whaaaat?
Abbie: Yeah.  We had a fan luncheon before the Fenway concert and we had about 130 people come to it. And we raised over $1600. And then the biggest one for this year, Danny raffled off his custom painted Harley Davidson and raised $99,000 for Komen.

BGLU: Danny must be really proud.
Abbie: He is so proud of all the fans and gets very emotional as does everyone. He's not the only one. Donnie speaks about Betty and gets emotional too.  They're all very much a family.  Danny is always in awe at the amount of money we raise.  Standing next to him and seeing everyone dressed in pink at the pink party on the cruise has been one of my favorite moments. We raised over $16,000.  This was in addition to the $11,000 fans raised outside of the cruise and presented that night. 

Abbie and Danny Wood at the Pink Party at this year's NKOTB Cruise
BGLU: All Blockheads. See what happens when we come together?
Abbie: We make a difference when we come together.

BGLU: How many Remember Betty teams are there?
Abbie: Right now there are 94 and they are worldwide: Besides the US and Canada, we had our first team in Chile this year and our first team in Germany this year.  There is a team running the marathon in South Korea, a team in Malaysia and there was a team in the UK as well.  It's very exciting and I think next year we're going to have teams in Australia soon. We're working on Mexico and France as well.  And so far to date we've raised over $220,000 this year and over $700,000 within the past 3 years.

BGLU: How have you been affected by breast cancer?  By the time you decided to be involved had you already been affected by breast cancer?
Abbie: I've been affected by breast cancer before getting involved with Team Betty and during. Before, my coworker Patty passed away from it. She had been told that she had been clear for 5 years and then she started having some health issues.  She went to the doctor &  turned out there was a spot that metastasized to her brain. She passed away at 47 and left behind 3 children and a husband. During my training this year for the 3 day my stepmother was diagnosed with breast cancer.  She had a lumpectomy, has gone through chemo and is currently going through radiation.  This year alone I’ve had two friends under 30 right now who have found lumps that have been benign. I have one friend in her mid 30’s who is going through procedures who has found a lump and is going through procedures to see what the lump is that she found.

BGLU: Tell us about the atmosphere at the races.
Abbie: The Race for the Cure 3 Day and the 5k are very different. It's very much an air of celebration. There’s a lot of pink, a lot of balloons. Everybody’s very happy and we enjoy getting together. We love seeing the survivors come down the survivor shoot and pass through the balloons in their pink shirts. It's an amazing thing to do. The 3 day is a much more intense experience emotionally. The opening ceremonies, you are five seconds in and you need a Kleenex. In Boston, at the opening ceremony the president of the Massachusetts affiliate is there to speak and she's a breast cancer survivor. She has gone through treatments multiple times. To hear her speak, she gets emotional because we walk for her. And because we walk she is a survivor. 

Nashville's Team Betty
BGLU: What's been one of your favorite moments of being a part of Remember Betty?
Abbie: When I finished the first day of the 3 day in 2010. I walked 20 miles in a day and I never ever thought I'dbe able to do that.  We walked into camp that day and there were a group of men who walked with us called The Men with Heart lined up singing “Pretty Woman” and handing out bracelets. That was a big personal moment. 

BGLU: How can people sponsor and/or donate ?
Abbie:  If they want to join they can go to the events link on RememberBetty.com. You can also donate through that link.

BGLU: Thanks Abbie!
For more information on Remember Betty and Team Betty, check out these links:

Official Twitter: @RememberBetty
Official email: info@rememberbetty.com

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