On this episode, Stephani Tucker, the Executive Director at It’s the Journey joined us on the podcast. Stephani talked about the founder of the organization, Randi Passoff, and her passion for raising money to stay local within the state of Georgia to support breast health and breast cancer programs. Stephani gave us the inside scoop on the 2-day walk that will take place on October 3 and 4, 2020.
Stephani Tucker, Executive Director of Its the Journey, Inc., joined us on the podcast to talk about the organization. It’s the Journey was founded in 2002 by Randi Passoff, a breast cancer survivor, after the Avon 3-Day Walk pulled out of Atlanta, GA. Randi was a long time walker and was very passionate about getting help in Georgia to support breast cancer patients and breast health programs. Though she passed away several years ago, her legacy continues through the organization and her son sits on the board. The organization works to honor Randi’s vision and passion.
The hallmark event of It’s the Journey, Inc. is the Georgia 2-Day Walk. The event takes place every October on the first weekend of the month. The event is a kinder and gentler breast cancer walk, with participants walking 20 miles over the 2 days and sleeping in a hotel rather than a tent. When the organization started, Randi had pulled together some friends, family, and long time walkers but it has expanded to now over 1000 registered walkers. The organization is run by 5 staff members that work year round to organize this event. The 2-Day Walk requires significant support from volunteers.
Participants walk 20 miles on Saturday and 10 miles on Sunday. The event kicks off with a big breakfast on Saturday morning with lots of protein. Walkers start at the Hard Rock Cafe and walk through downtown with views of central parts of the city, the stadium, aquarium, and even locations were movies have been filmed. There are stops along the route every 2.5 miles. There are cheer stations along with way. Even nurses serving jello shots can be found along the course. The Georgia State Police are highly involved in the event. There are businesses and residences that take part by decorating their buildings or yards in pink.
On Saturday, there is a big pajama party after all walkers have returned to the hotel that includes dinner and an award ceremony. On Sunday, the last quarter mile is the victory lap for the survivors. Many of the participants can be seen coming through with smiles on their faces while others might be in tears. For many, it is a huge accomplishment. Others may be participating in a wheelchair with a loved one pushing them.
All of the money raised through the event stays in Georgia. The goal is to be able to give away 100% of the walker raised dollars to clinics and healthcare offices that are in line with the mission of It’s the Journey. Right now, approximately 92% of the what walkers raised is put back into the community.
In the 17 years of the organization, 370 grants have been awarded with over 16 million dollars being funded. Each year, organizations submit a grant proposal for consideration. The organization is looking to support clinics, doctor’s offices, and facilities that support breast cancer screening, diagnostics, counseling, genetic testing, and even drug financial assistance. Approximately 40-50 grant applications are received per year and a total of 35-45 are awarded. The goal in the next year or two is to be able to award 1 million dollars in a year.
In addition to the 2-Day Walk, It’s the Journey also hosts the Giving Gala in March, which is an opportunity for all grantees to be recognized. It provided the opportunity for walkers to meet grantees, for everyone to mingle, and to put the mission of the organization back in focus. There is a 5K walk for individuals who are not interested in participating in the 2-Day Walk. There is also a Survivors Breakfast where survivors can network together and listen to a panel of experts on a variety of topics.
Volunteers are an integral part of the organization. Anyone interested can visit the website and click on the “Get Involved” and then “Volunteer” button.
Donations can be made to a walker, a crew, or a general donation via the website.