Each year 200,000 women and men are diagnosed with breast cancer in the United States alone. Erin Kokoszka has felt this statistic personally. “My maternal grandmother and all of her sisters have been affected by breast cancer,” she said. “My grandmother is a survivor and her other living sister is a survivor, but she’s lost two sisters. My two great-aunts have both been killed by the disease.”

Last year, Mrs. Kokoszka decided to form her own army against the disease by taking part in the Avon Breast Cancer Walk. She named her team Imma Be the Cure. The team’s battlefield was a 40-mile walk through the streets of Boston. Team Imma Be the Cure raised $43,500 for research and prevention, earning them fifth place honors for their fund-raising efforts. In total, the Boston walk raised $5.2 million dollars and nationwide the Avon walk raised $55 million.

For this year’s walk, taking place on May 14 and 15 in Boston, team Imma Be the Cure has nearly doubled in size.

Sarah York, manager of CB Stark Jewelers, signed up after listening to Mrs. Kokoszka talk about the walk during drinks at the Park Corner Bistro. “Erin and her friend were at the bar and they joined us and the walk came up,” said Mrs. York. “Erin is so motivational, she’s like O Captain! My Captain! inspiring.”

“I’m not doing this specifically for anyone, but more for everyone,” Mrs. York continued. “You know, I have a daughter. Do I want her to be dealing with this in 20, 30, 40 years? No. My best friend’s mother was recently diagnosed. Everyone has a story.”

This year’s team is not resting on past laurels. “We want to raise $60,000,” Mrs. Kokoszka said. To meet that goal, the team, consisting of seven on-Island women and some New Bedford and Boston area women, are hitting the streets with flyers in hand. Both Mrs. York and Mrs. Kokoszka remarked at how inspired they are by their community.

“Just in talking with people about it, they feel so compelled and want to give,” said Mrs. Kokoszka. “They feel like they’re taking part. And we’re representing them in the walk . . . I was at local businesses in Oak Bluffs last week asking to put up a flyer . . . and this woman found the courage to tell me why she was affected by breast cancer. Right there she personally pulled out her checkbook and wrote the most generous check in honor of her mother and her best friend.”

Mrs. Kokoszka also credits her team members. “Each of the women on the team is making a huge commitment. It’s all a juggle. Most of us have kids, families, and jobs. The fund-raising takes a lot of time, so does the training, and you definitely have to make time to train. I guess some people hear ‘walk’ and they don’t think it’s hard. They’re wrong. It’s very intense.”

But she loves the training. The eleven-mile walks around the airport on the weekends are some of her favorite parts of the experience.

“We walk for breakfast in the morning,” she said. They all eat at the Plane-view restaurant and each morning the waitresses ask, “How many miles did you walk today?”

The sheer physical intensity of the Avon walk, 26.2 miles on Saturday and 13.1 miles on Sunday, may be exhausting physically, but emotionally it gives back much more than it takes away in terms of aches and pains.

“It’s two days of the most amazing experience you can ever even dream of,” said Mrs. Kokoszka. “Both times I’ve done it, it’s been life-changing. It just helps set priorities and to not take things for granted. That really is the essence of it all. I think those kinds of things on a personal level are important, but you also have the camaraderie of thousands of other walkers. You are all walking for the same cause and have been impacted by it in some way, shape, or form. It really is so powerful.”

On Saturday, May 14, by the time the walkers reach the Reebok-sponsored tent city respite for the night there will be blisters, blisters, sprains, exhaustion, more blisters, high temperatures, fainting spells, and more blisters. But Mrs. Kokoszka dismisses the idea of such physical discomforts as obstacles. “Walking 39.3 miles in two days doesn’t even begin to compare to what someone who is fighting breast cancer would have to go through,” she said. “It’s the least we can do to honor them.”