HOLYOKE, Mass. (WWLP) – A Holyoke-based organization that serves young women, held a fundraiser to benefit Rays of Hope, in honor of breast cancer awareness month. This drive-thru fundraiser will go a long way in aiding breast cancer research.

Young girls from Girls Inc. of the Valley-Eureka! lined Dwight Street in Holyoke to raise money for breast cancer.

Bianca Speaks-Rua & Priscilla Bonser, STEM Students, Girls Inc. of the Valley Eureka! told 22News, “Just knowing we can help people by just holding signs, to be able to know we are helping those who need it because it’s very hard for them to go through this.”

It’s a disease that hits home for Bianca and Priscilla, as well as the other girls in the group.

“When you talk with the girls, it’s amazing how many of them know someone, a mom, a sister, an aunt, somebody who had breast cancer.” Anna Symington, a breast cancer survivor said.

Anna works with the Pioneer Valley Life Sciences Institute that consists of a team of breast cancer researchers trying to discover a cure.

“There is still limited access to human specimens. There are a lot of hurdles to gain access to them and the Rays of Hope has helped make us available to as many people possible,” Dr. Joseph Jerry, Science Director for PVLSI said.

According to Dr. Jerry, their findings with breast cancer could pave the way to understanding and solving other types of cancers.

“There are real advantages to breast cancer, detecting it early. So we can follow the disease more. What we learn from breast cancer, will benefit myself one day, prostate cancer, colon cancer. They are all different, how to study them is a challenge,” he said.

Thanks to fundraisers like this, millions of dollars have been donated over the years and it has helped make significant progress. In the U.S., 1 in 8 women is diagnosed with breast cancer. Detecting it early remains the most effective way to beat it.