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Wonder Woman honoured in inaugural breast cancer walk

Los Angeles, 13 Sep 2015

The inaugural Jessica M. Berman Wonder Woman Walk for Breast Cancer was held in Los Angeles. The event honoured Jessica M. Berman, the late wife of Macquarie Group’s David Berman and mother of two who was diagnosed with breast cancer at 34.

More than 1,100 super hero walkers completed the challenge and raised funds for breast cancer research.

Since childhood Berman had an affinity for Wonder Woman, which she came to embody in her personal battle against breast cancer. Sadly, she passed away in August 2014 at the age of 38.

The Jessica M. Berman Memorial Foundation was then established to support charitable initiatives with a focus on breast cancer research and support programs.

Berman was a tireless fundraiser and spokeswoman in her pursuit of raising awareness and funds for breast cancer research, even participating in the Avon Walk for Breast Cancer in Santa Barbara just two weeks after finishing her radiation therapy.

In September this year, the group of Wonder Woman Walkers gathered in Pacific Palisades in Los Angeles to honour Berman and the millions of women affected by breast cancer.

Nearly every walker had the name of a loved one affected by breast cancer written on their backs - a sombre reminder that one in eight women in the US will be diagnosed with breast cancer in their lifetime.

Among the walkers was Jessica's husband David Berman who organised the event and was accompanied by staff from Macquarie’s Los Angeles office.

Before the five kilometre walk kicked off, David Berman addressed the event crowd:

“We wanted to do something to honour Jessica and also raise money for breast cancer,” he told the crowd.

"I can only imagine Jessica’s reaction to the love and support from the community. Her legacy will indeed live on through this annual event.”

Honoured at the event were actress and breast cancer advocate Christina Applegate, (whose own breast cancer diagnosis was made public in 2008), along with internationally respected authority on women's cancer, Dr Philomena McAndrew.

The Wonder Woman Walk raised more than $540,000 for the Tower Cancer Research Foundation, inclusive of Macquarie Group Foundation matching, which has led to the establishment of the Jessica M. Berman Memorial Fund Grant within Tower Cancer Research Foundation. 

The first five-year scientific investigator grant was awarded to Dr Richard Pietras to study the next generation of estrogen receptor down regulators for breast cancer therapy.

Linda David, Executive Director at the Tower Cancer Research Foundation said the atmosphere during the event was “amazing”.

“There was so much love and support for the cause. There was a tent dedicated to Jessica which was filled with family photos, helping to connect participants to the legacy that was being created in her name - a legacy which will fund breast cancer research and patient support programs.” 

Image caption: Actor Christina Applegate, David Berman and Dr Philomena McAndrew at the inaugural Jessica M. Berman Wonder Woman Walk for Breast Cancer. Dr McAndrew treated both Applegate and Berman for breast cancer.