Scalise Family TurningPoint

(L to R) father DJ, Lauren, Samantha, Emilie and mother Stephanie Scalise

The sixth annual Strides for Survivors will take place Feb. 5 at Chastain Park.

Launched in 2017 by three sisters, Samantha, Lauren and Emilie Scalise, Strides for Survivors is a 2.7 mile walk around Chastain Park with starting and finishing points at The Galloway School.

The trio started the walk as a way to recognize their mother Stephanie, a breast cancer survivor, and give back to the Sandy Springs-based nonprofit TurningPoint Breast Cancer Rehabilitation, as the organization played a game-changing, integral role in her recovery.

Founded in 2003, TurningPoint provides critical survivorship services to breast cancer patients of all backgrounds, including some men. There have been some 40,000 patient visits since that time. TurningPoint’s services include physical therapy, massage therapy, emotional support, nutritional counseling, educational programs, and exercise classes. In the last couple of years the organization has expanded its footprint by providing tele-rehab and then through partnerships in other cities, states, and even overseas.

Through Strides for Survivors, the teens have raised nearly $50,000 over the past five years for TurningPoint. As the event returns to an in-person event this year, they are expecting the biggest event to date and most successful in terms of dollars raised.

“I knew there was a place that was helping her feel better after treatments and surgery,” 17-year-old Emilie Scalise said. “A place that she was excited to go to and would feel great when returning from. TurningPoint Breast Cancer Rehabilitation gave my mom not only a community to relate to and talk to, but a place that she could be vulnerable and ask for help without judgment and with an immediate response.”

Less than 10% of breast cancer patients are told the importance of incorporating exercise and rehabilitation into their treatment plans, particularly considering how it can not only increase the pace of a patient’s recovery, but can prevent recurrence.

All three sisters said watching their mother go through breast cancer was the hardest thing they have ever done.

“Being 14 at the time, there was so little that I could do other than be there for her emotionally, physically, and mentally, so that is exactly what I did,” 19-year-old Lauren Scalise said. “When she first came home from surgery, I would sneak into my parents’ room once they had fallen asleep and sleep on the bench in front of their bed. It was the most uncomfortable thing I have ever slept on, but I needed my mom to know that I was there for her if she needed anything at all. I ended up doing that for about a week.”

Samantha Scalise, 21, is the eldest sister said she took on the responsibility of caring for her siblings while her mother was going through treatment — from driving her sisters everywhere, preparing dinner and making sure homework was done.

“The biggest part of watching my mom go through breast cancer was seeing all the people that she has been a support system to in the past return the favor and become our support system,” Samantha Scalise said. “I am stronger having watched her grow through this stage in her life, but for a while, it knocked me on my butt.”

The trio decided to start the walk as a thank you to all the community members who stepped up and helped save their mother.

“As a family, giving back to the community that gave us our mother back was a no-brainer,” Samantha Scalise said. “It was our way of coping with what was going on. At the same time, we were providing aid and assistance to other families who were going through the same thing.”

This year’s walk offers both virtual and in-person options. The in-person walk is Feb. 5 at The Galloway School at 215 Chastain Park Ave NW. Participants can register ahead for $30 or at the race for $35. Check-in and registration begins at 10:30 a.m. The opening ceremony starts at 11:15 and the walk kicks off at 11:30 a.m.

Strids for Survivors will also have a family fun day with face-painting, games, chalk art, pre-walk yoga and silent auction and raffle.

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