Two Elmhurst residents are heading to Santa Barbara in September, but it’s not a typical girls getaway.

Gracik-Makinney partner Maria Gracik is teaming up with Ruth Hill and their longtime friend Leslie Hansen to participate in the AVON 39 Walk to End Breast Cancer. The women will spend two days walking 39 miles on Sept. 10 and 11.

Hansen has participated in the walk for the past five years in honor of the women’s mutual friend Mary Burke, who lost her battle to breast cancer in 2011. But this year’s walk has a particular poignancy; in June, Hansen herself was diagnosed with breast cancer.  

After Hansen’s diagnosis, Gracik and Hill were compelled to step up and show their support for her, while also raising funds and support for breast cancer research and treatment.

The AVON 39 Walk takes place in seven U.S. cities, including Santa Barbara, New York, Houston, Washington DC, Chicago, Boston, and San Francisco. Santa Barbara’s course winds through the charming downtown and continues along the coast with stunning views of the Pacific Ocean and the Santa Ynez mountains.

Walkers cover 39.3 miles in two days. Since its inception in 2003, the series has raised nearly $590 million and attracted more than 220,000 men and women. Funds raised are awarded to local, regional, and national breast cancer organizations to accelerate breast cancer research, improve access to screening and treatment, and provide education.

We’re immensely proud of Maria and of the hard work and effort of all of these women. If you would like to contribute, please visit

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