By Ray Johnson/DW-Photojournalist 

Celebration Life Foundation kicked off their 21st Annual Sister to Sister Fitness Festival  earlier this month, this year’s theme was titled “We’re on This Journey Together.” Dallas  Cowboys,”Hall of Famer,” Emmitt Smith’s Sister, Marsha Smith Hill, was the event’s “kick-off coach.” 

 Hill, a breast cancer survivor brought an inspirational and emotional message of faith. “Early detection is the key! keep your atmosphere saturated with people who are positive, encouraging, and uplifting. Keep the ‘nay sayers’ away from you. Rely on the Word of God!” 

The event hosted an array of all-star headliners such as fitness gurus Donna Richardson and Cassie Cass, and was mc’d by Lynne Haze of KRNB Radio and Tashara Parker of WFAA News 8. The event also featured a colorful montage of vendors, food, dancing, gospel music, scholarship presentations, and inspirational speakers and testimonials. 

A group of attendees dancing| Photo credit: Rayford Johnson

The Celebrating Life Foundation is a non-profit organization devoted to making cancer powerless by educating, encouraging, and empowering those most impacted by breast  cancer.  

“Recent studies have shown that walking not only helps us keep a healthy body weight, but it also lowers hormone levels that increase the risk for breast and endometrial cancers.” said Sylvia Dunnavant Hines, founder of the Celebrating Life Foundation. 

An estimated 1000 participants came out to walk and some to run the 5k charity event. 

Recent statistics show that Black women are twice as likely to be diagnosed with triple-negative breast cancer as compared to White women. Overall Black women have an over 41 percent higher mortality rate than any other ethnic group from breast cancer. 

The event’s theme and goal is not only to raise awareness of the deadly disease, but to provide onsite breast cancer screening at the event. Two testimonials were given by women at this year’s event who were screened at last year’s event, in which they discovered they had breast cancer, which they credit the early detection for saving their lives. 

“We are so excited that people feel energized by this event. It is always wonderful to see all the smiling faces engaging in various activities. However, we cannot forget that this event has helped to save lives. During the program we spotlighted Jacqueline Stewart and Susan Riley Joseph. Both women found out they had breast cancer after taking advantage of the on-site mammograms a few years ago,” said Hines, who advocates that breast cancer awareness be something that is embraced all year long.  

A group of attendees dancing | Photo credit: Rayford Johnson

“There is no doubt that our organization is flying high off of a successful event. We could not have done it without the help of the sponsors and dedicated participants. Yet, the true success has got to be measured by the reduction of deaths of women in our community from breast cancer. Just this week alone we had two women die from breast cancer that have supported our organization. We are extending our virtual walk to the end of October so that people can continue to raise funds and help us make a difference in the community,” said Hines.