Ladies of Port Richmond Supports Local Breast Cancer Work

The seven-year-old nonprofit raises money from the community—and keeps it here, too.

Mary Lou Leuters hatched the idea for a local breast cancer walk over a kitchen table in Port Richmond. A two-time survivor of the disease herself, Leuters felt the need to give back to the people who are currently affected by the illness. Thus began the Ladies of Port Richmond, a nonprofit group aimed at raising awareness and funding breast cancer research.

Unlike Susan G. Komen and other breast-cancer nonprofits that have a national scope, the Ladies keep their funds local, raising $250,000 over the last seven years for the Kimmel Cancer Center and donating funds to the Fox Chase Cancer Center and Northeastern Hospital, among other local facilities. This year, the funds they raise will go to Thomas Jefferson Hospital, Holy Redeemer and Nazareth Hospital.

“It’s really a great organization we have, and it’s very community-oriented,” says Louise Holmes, recording secretary of the group. And it’s true: When Leuters founded the Ladies of Port Richmond in 2005, she reached out to friends and neighbors in the community to help. Today, nine women volunteer their time and efforts to raise funds with the group. Every year, through a community breakfast, flea markets, bus trips, comedy nights and their main event, the Port Richmond Breast Cancer Walk, these women raise about $50,000 for breast cancer.

“The money that we get, we want it to go to education and awareness, and hopefully we’ll see a cure in our lifetime,” Holmes says. “When you give those funds over to those hospitals, you know someone is going to directly benefit from it.” The first Ladies of Port Richmond Breast Cancer Walk drew over 700 walkers. Holmes remembers seeing a sea of white shirts at the starting line and how it brought tears to her eyes. “All those people were walking and you think, Little old us did that?” she says. Recent walks have included motorcyclists from the Philadelphia Centurion motorcycle club, who ride alongside the walkers to serve as a barrier from cars. The Philly Phanatic has also become a fixture at the starting line.

This year’s Eighth Annual Ladies of Port Richmond Breast Cancer Walk will take place on Sunday, May 20th. Registration starts at 8:30 a.m. and the walk begins at 10. The walk will begin at the Monkevich Recreation Center at East Allegheny Avenue at Richmond Street. The course stretches 2.5 miles through Port Richmond. Registration is $30 in advance or $35 on the day of the walk. Register and learn more here.

>>  Check out our guide to other charity walks and runs in Philly here.