A group of teenage girls skip prom to honor their mother, "I miss you Mom" written on one man's pinned sign, and an elderly woman who wouldn't let a visit to the emergency room Saturday evening stop her from completing the full route.

These are just a handful of the inspirational stories Dr. Julie Nangia shared from her two days volunteering as medical director for the Avon Walk for Breast Cancer Houston.

Focus on personal journey

"This is not like your normal walk. These women and men walk 39 miles total – 26 the first day and 13 the next," said Nangia, assistant professor in the Lester and Sue Smith Breast Center. "Most are exhausted, have feet full of blisters, some experience dehydration to the point of needing IV fluids and we had to send a few to the emergency room. No matter the circumstances, the walkers remained so focused on completing their personal journey in this fight against breast cancer."

For the fourth year in a row, BCM served as the official medical sponsor of the Avon Walk for Breast Cancer Houston. Nangia led a team of more than 40 licensed health care professionals, which included nurse practitioners, fellows, residents and physicians (the majority from BCM), who provided care for walkers in the medical tent.

In addition to the long distance walk, there is also a significant fundraising requirement ($1,800) for each individual to qualify to participate. All money raised supports breast cancer research and access to care.

"It just goes to show you that individuals can change the world and do something," said Nangia.

Funding breast cancer projects

With the money raised in 2011, the Avon Foundation will be able to fund breast cancer projects applied for by organizations in and around the Houston area. From funds raised at last year's walk, BCM received a $300,000, two-year award to study breast cancer that has spread beyond the breast and targets the brain.

In addition to Nangia, the BCM medical team included the following licensed healthcare professionals: C. Ray Daulton; Evelyn Brown; Dr. Jennifer Cowart; Alfredia Minor Wilbert; Jovita Ochoa; Ronnie Tobias; Amy Reyna-Jackson; Laura O'Rosky; Leisa McMullen; Genie Hayward;; Michele Schaller; Dr. Kjersti Aagaard-Tillery; Dr. Dongxin Liu; Dr. Aditi Shastri; Dr. Emily Sedgwick; Akshay Tavkar; Dr. Matthew Anderson; Dr. Ruchir Patel; Dr. Polly Niravath; Dr. Courtney Miller-Chism; Dr. Amy Patel; Tim Borden; Dr. Snehal Desai; Dr. Rosa Michelle Schmidt; Gaurika Bhagi; Susan Richards; Rick Garcia; Liz Michael; Judy Villaflor; Sophia Song; Marilyn Pedregosa; Monique Jones; Daisy Sanchez; Dr. Mothaffar Rimawi; Elisa Ferrel ; Carolyn Wilkens; Anne Pavlick; Dr. Angel Rodriguez; Dr. Sao Jiralerspong; Dr. Edward Yen and Dr. Naval Daver.

In addition, on Saturday, more than 40 BCM family and friends volunteered to cheer on walkers as they marked the 25th of the 26 mile route for the first day.