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More than 800 turn out for final Komen 3-Day walk in Chicago

Participants celebrate Sunday Soldier Field after Susan G. Komen 3-Day walk.  |  KevTanaka~For Sun-Times Media

Participants celebrate Sunday at Soldier Field after the Susan G. Komen 3-Day walk. | Kevin Tanaka~For Sun-Times Media

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Updated: September 13, 2013 6:21AM

The last walk was also a last hurrah.

Exuberant cheers greeted participants Sunday in Chicago’s final Susan G. Komen 3-Day walk to raise money to fight breast cancer.

More than 800 walkers, some bearing the names of friends who died and others who survived on their clothing, covered 60 miles beginning in Northbrook and ending outside Soldier Field.

The last Komen Chicago walk comes a year after controversy roiled the breast-cancer charity.

Donations to the Komen Foundation plummeted after it briefly stopped providing grants to Planned Parenthood last year. Though the charity reversed that decision, it announced in June that it was canceling future walks in Chicago and six other cities because of a decrease in fund-raising and participants.

“I was disappointed in the organization. I almost didn’t do the walk, after I had already signed up,” said Jennifer Barron Fishman, 47, who runs a Chicago yoga and massage therapy studio for pregnant women. Fishman tended to her aching feet at a rest stop Sunday in Lincoln Park before marching on. But, she said, “They do still do a lot of good research.”

Others said the controversy didn’t quell their enthusiasm.

“I have granddaughters, and I want a cure in their lifetime,” said Rosa Shelton, 59, a Calumet City banker. She has lost four aunts to the disease.

Mary Kay Doherty, 55, of Downers Grove, was hit hard by the cancellation.

“I was blown away. This has been the most rewarding experience of my life,” said Doherty, as she limped away from the finish line.

“I guess I might do the AVON walk. There are options,” she said.

As always, the route was filled with a sea of pink accessories: feather boas, tutus, wigs, bandannas — and sometimes, they were worn by men.

Sunday’s walk raised more than $2.2 million. Since it came to Chicago in 2004, the walk has raised a total of $47.5 million.

“I need to tell women and men to examine themselves, because I found this” in a self-examination, said walker Christa Cannon, an American Airlines staffer who is to undergo reconstruction after a mastectomy.

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