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One Walk, 48 States, 16,000 Miles
to Help Families Fight Cancer

(PRWEB) October 1, 2004

Fort Collins, CO (PRWEB) October 1, 2004 Â? He walks. And he walks for a cause. John R. Buoniconti II, founder of Big JohnÂ?s Team (BJT), plans to raise at least $ 5 million to help ease the financial burden for cancer patients and their families during The Big Walk, a three-year, 16,000 mile trek in which he will walk across every state in the Continental United States.

Buoniconti started walking to help raise money to pay treatment costs for families of cancer victims. In addition, he founded the Gayle F. Buoniconti College Fund for children who have lost their parents to cancer. He does all of this because of the devastating impact cancer has had on his life. When he was nearly 8-years-old, he lost his mother to leukemia, and less than two years later, his father lost his battle with small cell lung cancer.

At age 10, Buoniconti was faced not only with the loss of both parents to cancer, but also with a hospital bill of over $ 1 million for the treatment of his mother. Â?A million-dollar bill is not a bill that many can afford to pay, especially a 10-year-old boy,Â? said Buoniconti.

That circumstance spurred an idea later in his life to help other families pay for cancer treatments. Now 25, Buoniconti raises money and participates in cancer walks around the country. In 2002, he single-handedly raised more than $ 11,500 for cancer research by walking in such events. It started with a three-day, 60-mile walk from Fort Collins, CO to Boulder, CO to raise money for breast cancer awareness and research. Thus Buoniconti took it a step further and formed BJT as a personal calling.

BJT hosts various fundraisers in communities across the country. Its first event was an art show in 2002 netting $ 2,000. The beneficiary was a 26-year-old woman fighting breast cancer for the sixth time. She had reached her health insurance providerÂ?s lifetime maximum, had $ 400,000 in treatment related debt, and could not afford the prescription drugs she desperately needed. BJT set up an account with her pharmacy and paid the prescription bills directly. In October 2003, BJT held their second annual silent auction in Fort Collins, CO, and gave more than $ 5,000 to a local family whose 10-year-old boy was fighting a severe form of kidney cancer. To date, BJT has raised over $ 25,000, and that is in addition to the over $ 20,000 that Big John has raised personally for other organizations.

Buoniconti continues to walk for the cause. He was his own team in the American Cancer Society’s Relay For Life and walked for 24 consecutive hours (38.25 miles). HeÂ?s participated in 3-Day walks to fight breast cancer in San Diego, CA; Boston, MA; Chicago, IL; and Fort Collins, CO.


Â?While participating in the various events and hosting BJT fundraisers, I had been thinking of ways to bring BJT to every state in our country. Cancer is not only a major health problem in the U.S., but to make it even worse, thereÂ?s a large percentage of U.S. citizens who have either inadequate heath insurance or no insurance at all,Â? said Buoniconti. Then came the idea for The Big Walk.

Over three years, Buoniconti will spend 45-80 hours per week walking through 48 states and Washington, D.C. He will begin his trek in Augusta, ME, on March 27, 2005 and end in San Diego, CA, on February 19, 2008. His goal is to raise awareness about cancer for millions of people, and to raise at least $ 5 million on The Big Walk. He will quit his job and walk for three years. Not a significant price to pay considering the pain most cancer patients endure.

Exactly how many pairs of shoes will he need for the 16,000 miles that will make up The Big Walk? �Fortunately, Brooks® Sports, Inc. has donated 12 pairs of walking shoes for me,� says Buoniconti. Other local and national companies have also offered their support with everything from bookkeeping, web site hosting, a gym membership, and legal services, to public relations and office space. In addition, he�s recruited a support person to drive a motor home along side of him for the entire duration. �She�ll also act as the media contact and aid in the logistics of setting-up additional fund-raisers along the way,� says Buoniconti. Big John also says that they are still in need of a support RV as well as $ 40,000 in sponsorship money.

To date, Buoniconti estimates he has walked about 2,000 miles. Currently he walks to work to keep in training for The Big Walk. He even devised a way to turn it into a fund-raiser to support The Big Walk. Friends and supporters donate $ 10 and select a number of days (between 1-195) they think he will walk in a row, to work. The winner receives a $ 100 gift card from Best Buy. He has currently walk for over 130 days.

On The Big Walk, Buoniconti also plans to distribute fliers from the American Cancer Society that highlight ways to receive discounted health care and insurance. HeÂ?ll also speak out about advocacy efforts to help change our current health care system, and host fund-raisers along the way.

Â?What makes The Big Walk even more special,Â? says Buoniconti, Â?is that contributors to BJT can select the state theyÂ?d like their donation to go to. People can make donations to states where they may have family members or friends affected by cancer. This allows BJT to help cancer patients in all 50 states and Washington D.C.Â?

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