Esther Suggs knows how traumatizing breast cancer can be. Diagnosed 10 years ago, she has lived through the trying treatments and the uncertainty.
So when she heard about Making Strides Against Breast Cancer, she knew she wanted to help.
Held each October, the event consists of non-competitive 3- to 5-mile walks to raise money for the American Cancer Society.
Beating cancer isn't a solo effort, and neither was Suggs' role in the walk. She showed up with a team of fellow Allstate agents — ultimately netting the ACA $103,000.
From her office on East Brainerd Road, Suggs said she called every Allstate agent in the city and region and asked them to join the walk. The Allstate Foundation agreed to donate $1,000 for each Allstate employee that participated.
The group ended up spanning six neighboring states.
The resultant $103,000 Helping Hands grant will benefit the American Cancer Society's mission "to free the world from cancer."
"Of course this is something that is near and dear to my heart," said Suggs.
She said she wants to do anything she can to help raise awareness, encourage people to get mammograms and help those diagnosed with the disease.
At the walk, Allstate volunteers even ran a tent where people could "pink out" with temporary hair dye.
"[Suggs] was so wonderful. She brought a ton of Allstate agents to the event," said Brennen Riddle, community development manager at the Chattanooga American Cancer Society.
Suggs said she hopes the recently awarded grant will help people afford treatment or help those undergoing treatment afford other living expenses.
"But most of all to find a cure, because it's such a terrible disease," she said.
The American Cancer Society is one of thousands of organizations to receive funding this year through the Allstate Foundation. The ACA will use the grant to further its work in breast cancer research, support services and early detection, said Riddle.
Riddle said she was amazed by the large amount Allstate donated, and knows firsthand how much good the American Cancer Society can do with the money.
"It's really neat that Allstate is not only giving back, but celebrating people like Esther and celebrating survivorship," she said.
Each year, the Allstate Foundation donates millions of dollars in the form of Helping Hand grants to celebrate the charitable community involvement of Allstate employees. Since the foundation was founded in 1952, it has contributed over $400 million to support community nonprofits where Allstate agency owners and employees volunteer, according to its website.
In addition to Suggs, other local volunteers included Kevin Connolly, Christine Dowan, George Gray, Hillary Hennessee, Kelly Hooper, James Norris and Tosha Rahman.
Riddle said she is grateful to live in a community where so many people are supportive and involved in giving back.
"I'd like to say thank you to Chattanooga, and I hope to see as much support or more in 2018," Riddle said.
Those who do participate are sure to see a team of "pinked out" Allstate volunteers. Suggs said she is already looking ahead to the 2018 walk, and hopes the Allstate team can raise twice as much money.
Email Carson Cook at firstname.lastname@example.org.