Walk the Walk came into being 18 years ago when just a handful of women Power Walked the New York City Marathon in their bras to raise money and awareness for breast cancer. What started out as a one-off fundraising event blossomed into a thriving multi-million dollar charity, raising to date over $158M for vital breast cancer causes.
The story all started with Nina Barough, who is the founder of Walk the Walk. In 1996, Nina was running her own production company in London and woke up one morning with a crazy idea that it would be “fun” to Power Walk the New York City Marathon in a decorated bra to raise money for a good cause. At that time Nina had no experience with fundraising or taking part in a marathon nor did she know anyone who had been affected by breast cancer.
She convinced 13 women to join her and after much training and fundraising, this small, brave group took to the streets of New York in their bras. In truth, they may have just signed on for a fun weekend in New York, but the team raised over $40,000, which they donated to Breakthrough Breast Cancer Research UK to help build the first dedicated center for breast cancer research.
Word soon got around and people started to call Nina asking if they could join her next walking challenge. Due to her work commitments it was doubtful if that would happen, but then fate intervened.
Fate lends a hand
In January 1997, only two months after the adventure to New York, Nina not only discovered she had breast cancer herself but that it was an aggressive tumor, which she had most probably had for about three years. As a result, her world was thrown upside down as she had to give up her business and embark on a treatment program including a mastectomy followed by radiotherapy, with a two-year course of Zoladex injections and Tamoxifen. As is often the case in difficult times, those around her felt very helpless. At the the height of the Spice Girls and Girl Power, they decided to encourage a team to Power Walk the London Marathon as a positive way to support Nina.
The 1997 London Marathon was another huge success for the Walkers, raising in excess of another $40,000. Three days after the marathon the first Walk the Walk auction was held to sell their bras that had been designed by celebrities such as Paul Smith, Mary Quant, Richard Branson and many more. Only days later Nina was admitted to hospital to begin her treatment.
And so The MoonWalk was born
In the spring of 1998, Walk the Walk entered its second team into the London Marathon. 25 Walkers claimed their place, however there were 25 who were not so lucky. Not wanting to disappoint them or waste their hard earned fundraising or training, Nina decided to create a one-time marathon for these girls. The intrepid 25 grew to 65 and, on the eve of the London Marathon, they set off at midnight on Saturday with the intention of completing their marathon by 7:00 a.m. Sunday morning and passing on the ‘baton’ in Trafalgar Square to the girls that would be walking the official London Marathon. Nina and a girlfriend actually completed both The MoonWalk followed by the London Marathon, a total of 52.4 miles within 24 hours…and The MoonWalk was born!
Walk the Walk becomes an official charity
By 1998 it was clear that word was spreading. Nina took the first steps to find sponsors that would help her to fund the establishment of an official charity. The rest, as they say, is history!
It is hard to believe that Walk the Walk has only been an official charity for such a short time. Nina had managed to turn a simple idea into a dynamic charity that promotes a healthy and fit lifestyle and at the same time raises significant funds for vital breast cancer causes. Nina’s passion for healthy eating and exercise has inspired many others; in fact joining Walk the Walk is often described as a life-changing event. Many women and men who have never power walked or been involved in any sort of fitness before are becoming ardent walkers. It appears that Walk the Walk is achieving its goal of encouraging women and men to become more aware of their own potential for healing and for maintaining good health and well being.
A grant making charity
As a grant making charity, everybody taking part in Walk the Walk challenges is raising money for Walk the Walk. The charity then looks at various projects and campaigns that are involved with breast cancer and grants funds where we know it will make the most difference. It is our policy to look at projects that perhaps would not easily find funding, and to those that would perhaps take many years to achieve their goals and assist them in reaching them in a shorter time. We support research, which we feel is our future, and certainly over the past 18 years some ground breaking research has been made, not only into the causes of breast cancer but also identifying cancer genes and consequently improving the treatments. We also fund emotional and physical support for those that have cancer now.
Our flagship events to date are The MoonWalks in London and Edinburgh, and The SunWalks in Newcastle, Bristol and Southampton. We also organize trips and walking adventures to other events throughout the country and indeed the world, encouraging people to keep taking on new challenges and to keep them motivated.
Since 2000 His Royal Highness Prince Charles has been a huge supporter of Walk the Walk, endorsing the ethos and values of the charity with his own values towards integrated and holistic cancer care, the benefits of organic foods and the support that we all need to give to the environment. Consequently in 2004 when the charity felt it was time to find a suitable Patron, he was the obvious choice and, fortunately for us, said “yes.”
Walk the Walk steps into the Future
Having taken trademarks and licenses in most parts of the world, perhaps our most adventurous plan at the moment is to transport the dynamic energy, camaraderie and passion of The MoonWalk to other countries and allow them to receive the benefits of this amazing challenge that unites so many and achieves so much! That’s why we are so excited by The MoonWalk New York City 2015 - back to the city where it all started!