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Delta flight attendant honored as ‘Unsung Hero’ of breast cancer fight

Kristen Manion Taylor, Senior V.P. of In-Flight Service at Delta, honored Delta flight attendant and "survival sister" Marenda Hughes Taylor with the Roslyn and Leslie Goldstein Unsung Hero Award at this year's Breast Cancer Research Foundation Hot Pink Party in New York.
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When Kristen Manion Taylor announced her breast cancer diagnosis to her “Delta family,” a care package from her “survival sister,” Marenda Hughes Taylor, contained the ultimate memento for the battle ahead: a pair of pink boxing gloves. 

When Kristen Manion Taylor, Senior Vice President of In-Flight Service, announced her breast cancer diagnosis to her “Delta family,” a care package from her “survival sister,” Marenda Hughes Taylor, contained the ultimate memento for the battle ahead: a pair of pink boxing gloves. 

The two had forged an instant kinship when Kristen became Senior Vice President of In-Flight Service, leading flight attendants like Marenda at the airline – connecting on their shared experience with breast cancer. Marenda is also a breast cancer survivor, and her inspiration stood out as extra special among the messages of encouragement that poured in from across the “Delta family.” 

“On the tougher days, I’d take one look at the gloves and know I had to keep fighting – all thanks to Marenda,” Kristen said. 

On Tuesday, Kristen honored Marenda as this year’s Roslyn and Leslie Goldstein Unsung Hero Award recipient – an award presented to a friend (not a relative or medical professional) who provided compassion, love and support. The award is given at the annual Breast Cancer Research Foundation Hot Pink Party in New York, where Delta people were recognized for raising more than $3.25 million for BCRF in 2023. 

Kristen Manion Taylor, Senior Vice President of In-Flight Service at Delta, honored Delta flight attendant and "survival sister" Marenda Hughes Taylor with the Roslyn and Leslie Goldstein Unsung Hero Award at this year's Breast Cancer Research Foundation Hot Pink Party in New York.

“This is the highest honor I've received. I don't have words to even express how much it means to me,” Marenda said. “It touches my heart and the fact that Kristen is presenting it to me makes it even more special.” 

Marenda’s own survival journey began in 2014 at the age of 39. She discovered a lump during a self-exam at home, which prompted her to see the doctor. After a mammogram and biopsy, Marenda was diagnosed with an aggressive form of Stage 1 breast cancer. 

“It was devastating because I didn't think that I would ever be that person with cancer,” Marenda said. “I was shocked, nervous and really concerned about what my future was going to look like.” 

She went into treatment immediately, beginning with six rounds of chemotherapy before receiving a double mastectomy and reconstruction surgery. Marenda joined Delta in 2017 and now uses her story to encourage other women to prioritize their health.  

“This award celebrates the importance of hope and enduring friendship throughout a breast cancer journey, and there is no pair that exemplifies these qualities more than Marenda and Kristen,” said BCRF President and CEO, Donna McKay. “They are incredible representatives of the unwavering dedication that Delta Air Lines has to supporting its employees who are impacted by the disease, and to funding lifesaving research that will one day eradicate breast cancer.” 

Delta employees who raised the most for the cause this year, either through on-board or online donations, were in attendance and presented the donation to BCRF alongside Delta leaders.      

At this year's Breast Cancer Research Foundation Hot Pink Party in New York, Delta people were recognized for raising more than $3.25 million for BCRF in 2023.

Since the partnership began in 2005, Delta has raised $28 million for BCRF, fueling 560,000 hours of research over the years in the pursuit of eradicating breast cancer. 

BCRF is a nonprofit organization committed to achieving prevention and a cure for breast cancer. It provides critical funding for cancer research worldwide to fuel advances in tumor biology, genetics, prevention, treatment, metastasis and survivorship. Since its founding in 1993 by Evelyn H. Lauder, BCRF has raised more than a billion dollars for lifesaving research. 

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