By Naval Facilities Engineering Command Headquarters Public Affairs
WASHINGTON - Members of the Naval Facilities Engineering Command (NAVFAC) and the Office of the Judge Advocate’s General (OJAG) Headquarters walked on the historic Washington Navy Yard and along the Southeast River Front Oct. 25 to honor Disability Awareness Month.
The crowd of 15 walkers gathered at the NAVFAC HQ Building 33 for the opening ceremony at which the NAVFAC Assistant Commander for Acquisition Cindy Readal welcomed the walkers and supporters present on the importance of today’s event.
“Today we’re celebrating Disability Awareness Month,” said Readal. “We all here today have a role in ensuring those with disabilities enjoy the same opportunities for employment and inclusion.”
The opening ceremony featured four breast cancer survivors who shared their individual perspectives and triumphs with the audience.
Sandra Kline, an employee of the NAVFAC Capital Improvements Directorate spoke of the “unsung heroes” in the fight against breast cancer…the caregivers.
“Nothing is harder than seeing someone you love struggle with cancer and being a part of those efforts to take care of them,” said Kline
"You have breast cancer," is how Bridgette Johnson of NAVFAC Public Works, and the walk organizer, began her story as she relayed the four life-altering words she heard with her diagnosis. Johnson emphasized the importance of knowing your body, and the need for people to persevere in getting a proper diagnosis if they feel something is not quite right about their health. Johnson herself underwent several medical opinions and tests before finally being diagnosed and treated.
“I tell you that story because if I were not persistent, I would not be here today,” said Johnson. “I am a survivor.”
While many people may associate breast cancer only with women, Nery Duron-Licona offered his perspective as a survivor who was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer that strikes males. Duron-Licona was an aspiring naval officer undergoing training in Pensacola, Florida, when he was struck by a simple cough. Further medical tests revealed a tumor mass in his chest and treatment followed. Like Johnson, Duron-Licona strongly emphasized seeking medical attention for any unusual illness.
“If you feel anything out of whack in your health, go to the doctor and request a full checkup,” said Duron-Licona. “Because there are many things which can be wrong that you cannot easily tell.”
Following the opening ceremony, the walkers began their two-mile trek around Washington Navy Yard buildings, eventually walking along the river front to Nationals Park and returning.
Staff from the Naval Support Activity Washington (NSAW) Fitness Center led the crowd in the walk as a show of solidarity and support.
“We are happy to join the ‘Let's Walk’ event to assist with motivating individuals and their families who have been affected by cancer,” said Shaun Knight, NSAW fitness coordinator.