Hitting the trail

Celebs and supporters make tracks for Take-A-Hike.

By Kim Devore / Staff Writer

They’ll be heading for the hills at Paramount Ranch this Saturday with the goal of making breast cancer a thing of the past. It’s all part of the 11th Annual Expedition Inspiration Take-A-Hike to benefit vital research programs at UCLA and USC.

Local luminaries like Téa Leoni will join “Basic Instinct” beauty Jeanne Tripplehorn, soap queen Farah Fath and fitness expert Kathy Smith for a day of fundraising in the great outdoors.

Smith, like many others who have been lacing up their hiking boots year after year, knows someone who has been personally affected by the disease.

“My friend was only 40 at the time and our kids were in school together,” Smith said. “We were just shocked. So this group of moms decided to come out and support her.”

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Registration for the event begins at 7:30 a.m. Saturday with hikes offered for all ages at beginning, intermediate and advanced levels. Opening ceremonies are to follow and the hike itself begins at 9 a.m. The ranch is located in the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area at 2903 Cornell Rd. In addition to a pre-hike bite, the event will feature a live auction as well as entertainment by Unkle Monkey and the Tim Peterson gospel singers.

Expedition Inspiration Take-A-Hike was founded in 1993 by breast cancer survivor Laura Evans to raise awareness and research funds as well as educate and support those affected by the disease. According to the American Cancer Society, more than 260,000 women and 1,600 men were diagnosed with breast cancer in 2005 and one in eight women will develop breast cancer in their lifetime. Organizers say that makes Take-A-Hike more important than ever.

Through treks, hikes and other outdoor activities, the fund has raised more than $2 million. While Smith’s friend did not survive, millions of breast cancer patients now face a brighter future and many go on to live long, healthy and happy lives.

“It’s thanks to things like Take-A-Hike that survival rates are climbing,” Smith said. “It’s such a great event. It brings people together outdoors. It’s out in nature and in a few hours you learn so much about other people’s lives. You go away and feel empowered and filled up with gratitude.”

Through their efforts, Smith and her friends hope to make the disease, which touches so many, history.

“My hope is to say this is the decade we can take that survival rate to 100 percent and finally cure breast cancer.”

More information on Take-A-Hike can be obtained by calling 213.486.4558 or online at www.eitakeahike.org

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