By Katelyn Gendron
Reminder Assistant Editor
WEST SPRINGFIELD Imagine yourself behind the wheel of a brand new BMW convertible, with the crisp autumn air whipping through your hair, and the knowledge that for every mile you drive you're helping to find a cure for breast cancer.
Since February, a fleet of BMWs has traveled to over 140 communities across the nation as part of the 12th Annual BMW Ultimate Drive supporting Susan G. Komen for the Cure.
On Sept. 27 from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., the fleet will be stopping at the BMW of West Springfield, 1720 Riverdale St., allowing all those in attendance to test-drive the BMW of their choice, including the BMW X6 the world's first Sports Activity Coup before it hits the market next May. For each mile driven, $1 will donated to Susan G. Komen for the Cure.
"We're celebrating our 12th year in supporting Susan G. Komen for the Cure and we've been successful in getting hundreds of thousands of people involved in the program," Tom Purves, chairman and CEO of BMW of North America, said. "The program invites driving enthusiasts and community members to get behind the wheel and contribute to the battle against breast cancer, and this year we hope to inspire more people to participate by extending the length of the fundraising drive [from 10 months to 11]."
The Ultimate Drive has raised over $11 million thus far and will reach 202 BMW dealerships nationwide during 2008 in the hopes of raising over $12 million by December.
The money donated to Susan G. Komen for the Cure has allowed this grassroots organization to become the largest source of funding for breast cancer research worldwide. Nancy Brinker founded the organization 25 years ago, after making a promise to her dying sister, Susan G. Komen, that she would fight for those suffering from the disease.
To pay tribute all those who are fighting breast cancer, a "Local Hero" will be honored at each of the Ultimate Drive stops. Aida Segarra, a 78-year-old breast cancer survivor from Springfield, has been named as this year's hero.
"We felt she had a very compelling story," Paula Goldfarb, events and sponsorship director for Susan G. Komen for the Cure, Massachusetts Affiliate, said. "It's one thing to have the courage and strength to fight the disease and live through it but it is a whole other to be devoting your life to those who are going through it. Each survivor is a model of strength and determination."
Goldfarb noted that Segarra's commitment to those battling the disease is what made her such a deserving candidate.
Segarra was diagnosed in 2004 and underwent a lumpectomy and radiation treatment. She has since become a Survivor Mentor and conducts home visits for those recently diagnosed or homebound.
"I feel honored to help others," Segarra said, adding that she is humbled by her recognition as a "Local Hero."
She explained that unlike many others, she never thought of her diagnosis as a "death sentence" and was determined to fight.
Yvette Segarra, Aida's daughter, said her mother's determination and dedication to those still suffering makes her an example of hope and inspiration.
Goldfarb noted that 75 percent of the funds raised during the Ultimate Drive are reinvested in Massachusetts.
"We want to make sure that each woman has access to the care that she needs," she said.
For more information about the BMW Ultimate Drive and Susan G. Komen for the Cure go to www.komen.org.
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