CINCINNATI -- Andrea Bashor was just 27 and the mother of a 1-year-old daughter when she was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2005.
Her cancer journey inspired an annual fundraiser that raises thousands of dollars to support women from across the Tri-State battling the disease.
The event, Breast Fest of Cincinnati, is a labor of love for West Side couple Kathy and Dan “Double D” McCarthy and has become one of Ohio’s largest motorcycle rides that raises funds to support women with breast cancer.
The McCarthys first hosted the motorcycle run in 2005 to support Bashor, a childhood friend of their daughter and son. That year, about 150 riders participated.
“We raised $4,000 for Andrea, and we were thrilled,” Kathy McCarthy said. Bashor requested they make it an annual run to support other women facing the same battle, and they were happy to oblige.
“The following year we raised $6,000 and then $8,500, and it kept growing from there,” she said. “There is so much support every year.”Those funds support two local recipients each year as well as Pink Ribbon Girls, an Ohio-based nonprofit that provides free direct services, education and support to women battling breast and reproductive cancers.
This year’s event is set for June 11.
“It’s amazing to see how it has grown and morphed into such a huge event,” said Bashor, of Aurora, Indiana. “Dan and Kathy have such a drive to help others.”
The generosity of the McCarthys and the growing number of bikers is overwhelming but not at all surprising, she said.
“The motorcycle community is the most generous and thoughtful group,” Bashor said. “They take their hobby and use it to do good in the world.”
Bashor is now cancer-free and a mom of three. She serves on Pink Ribbon Girls’ board of directors and volunteers every year at Breast Fest.
She knows first-hand what the support it provides means to young women dealing with a cancer diagnosis.
“It goes beyond money,” she said. “When I was diagnosed, it was a really scary time. Support from your friends and family is everything. And when you go to an event like Breast Fest and see complete strangers come out to support you, you feel such a sense of love.”
Like Bashor, most past recipients and their families volunteer and support Breast Fest each year, McCarthy said.
“We’re a big community,” she said. “They want to give back and be part of that support system for other women battling breast cancer.”
The close-knit group has faced tragedy together.
“We have lost four of our girls,” McCarthy said. “It’s just devastating.”
Despite the losses and the somberness surrounding the topic of cancer, Breast Fest is anything but gloomy, Bashor said.
“It’s a blast – you hear the roar of all the motorcycles, and everyone is excited. It’s a happy day,” she said.
For details about this year’s Breast Fest of Cincinnati, visit www.breastfestcincinnati.com.