Making Strides Against Breast Cancer

This program, created for the American Cancer Society, is one of the nation’s leading resource development initiatives in the fight against breast cancer.

Background and Objectives

In 1992, the American Cancer Society’s (ACS) Massachusetts Division engaged Biondolillo Associates to make recommendations regarding its then seven-year-old Making Strides Against Cancer walkathon, which had reached a plateau at $200,000. Biondolillo made two seminal recommendations:

  • Focus the Making Strides Against Cancer event in the area of breast cancer, and
  • Employ a staff-centered organizational model in order to achieve large-scale objectives.

Biondolillo was then retained, in 1993, by the Massachusetts Division to develop capacity in the area of large-scale special-event fundraising using the Biondolillo Model of peer-to-peer fundraising. As a result, the 1993 event drew 6,000 participants (in the rain) and raised $660,000, more than tripling the results of the previous event.  For the next 20 years, Biondolillo guided the growth of Making Strikes Against Breast Cancer from coast to coast.

Program Elements

  • “Reality-based” goal setting employed to ascertain market potential.
  • Flagship Sponsorship model implemented.
  • Dedicated event management recruited, trained, and supported 24/7.
  • “Kick-off Event” system introduced.
  • “Campaign-style” public relations employed.
  • Donor-centric culture, as well as culture of staff team accountability created.


  • In 24 years, the Making Strides Against Breast Cancer program has grown from a single event raising $660,000 to a program, including 100+ Biondolillo Model events, grossing approximately $75 million per year.
  • October 2016 marked the 24th anniversary of the Boston Strides event, which, since 1996, has been the largest one-day, single-venue breast cancer fundraiser in the nation. (Boston’s peak year: 40,000 participants/$3.3 million.)
  • October 2016 also marked the 23rd anniversary of the NY Metro Strides, which, since 1997, has been the largest one-day, single-market fundraiser to fight breast cancer in the nation. (NY Metro Strides peak year: eight sites, 130,000 walkers/$9 million.)
  • Since the inaugural Strides in 1993, an estimated eight million participants have raised $800 million from 40 million individual sponsors.
  • Each year, approximately 25,000 corporations, hospitals, municipal organizations and businesses are represented in Strides events, with over 250 participating as Flagship Sponsors.
  • Strides has enabled the American Cancer Society to establish leadership positioning in the area of breast cancer in a superheated competitive arena.
  • Strides has been ACS’s lead corporate relationship acquisition vehicle.
  • Strides has generated ACS’s largest single-event television and radio sponsorships and the largest single-event press clipping books.
  • Strides has been the engine for several multi-million-dollar government appropriations, as well as supported several capital initiatives.
  • Strides techniques have been employed to help grow and develop other ACS special-event fundraising programs, including Relay for Life.
  • Strides has been credited with having epidemiological impact—the first known instance in the U.S. of a special event being linked definitively to saving lives.
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Our lead staff

Rita Pastore

Rita Pastore Bio Image

Rita Pastore is the vice president of the Training Division of Biondolillo Associates, Inc. An expert in the field of walkathons and other peer-to-peer fundraisers, Rita manages the nation’s top team of special-event fundraising trainers, who, in addition to delivering Biondolillo’s 90-hour core and advanced curricula, provide 24/7 consulting support to the firm’s national client base.