By Jeanne Sager
JEFFERSONVILLE October 18, 2002 Some days, its good to be the king, or in this case, the queen.
Cassie Boyd of Jeffersonville wasnt expecting to win the Miss Sullivan County Pageant. She wasnt expecting anything to come of it.
In fact, the 2002 Sullivan West graduate tried out just for fun, something to do in her last year of eligibility (the age limit is 18, which Boyd turned this year).
But putting on her crown, Boyd has found, is opening doors for her left and right.
The Sullivan County Community College student first approached the American Cancer Society shortly after the pageant.
Her grandmother, Marie, is a five-year breast cancer survivor, and its always been a cause close to Boyds heart. And the American Cancer Society was eager to find a young spokesperson so involved in the cause.
Shes very passionate about it, explained Liz Roden, a media representative for the American Cancer Society in Kingston. She wants to show people its not only a womans disease it affects everyone.
Now Boyd is rounding up people left and right to take part in the Making Strides Against Breast Cancer walk at Woodbury Common Premium Outlets this weekend.
The walk, which is run every October in honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, will be held Sunday, October 20, with more than 8,000 walkers making the rounds at the outlet to earn pledges for the cause. Boyd has enlisted family members, coworkers at the Villa Roma Country Club in Callicoon (where shes a switchboard operator), and friends from college to get involved.
And at the last Harvest Festival in Bethel Sunday afternoon, Boyd was out in the cold plugging her cause and signing up visitors to walk in the five-kilometer race.
According to the American Cancer Society, 200,000 women are diagnosed every year with breast cancer. And the disease affects everyone from the women struggling through chemotherapy and surgery to regain their strength, to their husbands, parents and children.
Boyd can attest to that. She didnt know much about cancer until her grandmothers diagnosis. Before that, she said, she only knew someone through a friend of a friend of a friend, who was struggling with the disease.
But after watching her grandmother pull through, Boyd has been looking for some way to make a difference in the lives of women with breast cancer.
Traditionally, Boyd noted, the majority of walkers are survivors and their families. But every other person who shows up adds to the support system for those struggling with cancer.
The more people we get involved, it shows more support for the cause, she explained.
In addition to getting involved with Making Strides (the walk which she will be a special guest at this weekend), Boyd is currently developing a program to go into the schools around the county to speak with classes about early prevention techniques.
I only learned about breast cancer when my grandma had it, she explained. Im thinking if we prepare people, especially kids, ahead of time, theyll know what to expect.
Boyd wants to teach students in health classes at county schools about self breast exams to check for lumps and other facts about the disease.
She hopes to come up with some other fundraisers for the American Cancer Society during her reign as Miss Sullivan County, focusing her attentions on educating the public.
Ill volunteer any way I can to help, she noted.
Boyd is looking to earn a degree in elementary education and find a job as a kindergarten teacher. Volunteering, she said, is in her blood.
As a youngster, Boyd spent hours at the adult home in Jeffersonville painting elderly womens fingernails and reading to the older gentlemen. She spent years in high school as a library volunteer, shelving books and sorting through donations, and since her senior year of high school, Boyd has been helping to raise money for the Hughson family, who lost a daughter to cancer in March.
A lot of people think its weird to go out and do something youre not getting paid for, Boyd noted. But its an entirely different kind of reward.
Its one of those good karma-type things, she added with a laugh.
Boyd is the daughter of Craig and Sandra Boyd of Jeffersonville. She has two sisters at home, Heather and Kimberly.