Now, Roesel-Bresnan is using a hobby to raise money to fight the disease and to protect one of Cherokee County’s rivers.
On Saturday, Roesel-Bresnan will join dozens of water lovers and participate in the Pink Paddle along the Etowah River.
The event, sponsored by Rome-based Coosa River Basin Initiative and Canton-based Upper Etowah River Alliance, will take canoers along a 15-mile stretch of the Etowah River in Cherokee County from just south of Ball Ground to Boling Park in Canton.
Participants will meet at 9 a.m. at the East Cherokee Drive bridge over the river and make their way down to Boling Park. To sign up for the trip, visit www.Coosa.org/events/paddle-trips. Participants can make a donation to be in the Pink Paddle on or before the day of the event. People can also make donations by visiting www.FirstGiving.com/Coosa/Fundraisers.
Half of the money raised will go to Roesel-Bresnan’s efforts to participate in the Susan G. Komen 3-Day for the Cure walk in Atlanta from Oct. 21 to 23 and the remaining proceeds will benefit the CRBI.
Roesel-Bresnan said the idea for a joint fundraiser stemmed from her husband, Paul, to combine two passions: protecting the Etowah and for finding a cure for breast cancer.
Roesel-Bresnan’s mother was diagnosed in April 2007 with stage three triple negative breast cancer, an aggressive form of cancer that’s not responsive to hormone therapy treatments.
Roesel-Bresnan remembers the time when she learned of her mother’s condition, adding she was “very scared, worried and upset.”
“We were all concerned and upset and we rallied around her,” she said.
She noted doctors said she only had 15 percent chance of survival. Since her mother had that breast cancer, chemotherapy and radiation were the only options for treatment.
Prospective walkers wishing to participate in the walk must raise at least $2,300. She added she hopes to get a total of $4,600 raised by October. She has raised almost $500 so far.
Joe Cook, executive director and river keeper with CRBI, said the organization doesn’t have a specific fundraising target.
The money given to CRBI will be used to continue the organization’s advocacy and education efforts and to “protect the drinking water source for North America’s most biodiverse basin.”
The Coosa River Basin, which the Etowah River is part of, has more than 30 different aquatic species, Cook added.
Cook said he was excited when he learned of Roesel-Bresnan’s idea.
“I thought it would be a fun thing to do,” he said, adding it was a new twist to their fundraising efforts.
A little less than 30 people have signed up to participate in the paddle, but Cook said the organization typically has up to 70 people who join them on county waters.
Roesel-Bresnan began paddling years ago and tries to paddle the Etowah River at least twice a year. She frequently takes her canoe out to Lake Allatoona on the weekends.
Roesel-Bresnan, 39, an inventory manager with IBM, said she hopes people join her through either donations or walking to help stamp out breast cancer.
“It’s a disease that takes a toll on a family,” she said.
She also said she hopes to see many people, whether they are avid canoers or not, come out and support CRBI in its initiative.
Cook agreed, adding the Etowah River is “under the gun” as there are plans to build a Shoal Creek Reservoir in Dawson County and another reservoir at Calhoun Creek on the Dawson-Lumpkin county line.
Cook added the reservoirs, with sticker prices in the millions, would pump water from the Etowah River to metro Atlanta, which he said would lower Cherokee’s drinking water supply and endanger the basin’s species.
“It’s a huge investment with not a lot of return,” he said.