Warriors in pinkWritten by Chrys Peterson | | firstname.lastname@example.org
On Sept. 27, Downtown Toledo will become a battleground. The enemy: breast cancer. The warriors: 18,000-plus men, women and children. The weapon: their feet!
Many of the warriors already have battle scars: those wearing pink shirts and pink caps are breast cancer survivors. This year, there will be more than 1,200 of them: some running, some walking, some being pushed in wheelchairs or riding on the trolley because they’re going through treatment and are simply too weak to take the steps. If you watch the crowd, you’ll see people patting them on the back, cheering them on and giving them hugs; complete strangers, in some cases, offering encouragement and thanks to those who continue to fight.
And it’s not just ladies wearing those pink shirts. At least three men who are survivors will be wearing pink too. Surprised? The only criteria for developing breast cancer is having breasts, and that includes women and men.
Some in the crowd have already lost loved ones to the enemy. Leslie Droll’s family members will be there remembering their wife, mom and grandma. The emotion is still raw for the Drolls. Leslie lost her battle a year ago after fighting breast cancer for 14 years. She walked in the Race every year after her diagnosis, proudly wearing her pink shirt. This year’s Race for the Cure is in memory of Leslie Droll.
Looking around in the crowd, it’s not hard to see why so many people participate. People walk with names and photographs on their backs, celebrating loved ones who are breast cancer survivors, and remembering loved ones who have died from the disease.
As honorary chairwoman for the NW Ohio/Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure for the past 15 years, I’ve witnessed many incredible and inspirational stories: high school friends reunited 20 years later on the race route, both wearing pink survivor shirts; a high school football team pushing a mom in a wheelchair; a 24-year-old woman who’d shaved her head the night before the race because her hair was falling out from her chemo treatment.
I’ve been completely inspired by so many scenes, but the one that always sticks with me happened a few years ago. I was watching the first runners cross the finish line and I saw a woman in a pink shirt running toward me. When she got about a block from the finish line, a man in the crowd pushed a little girl into the street. She looked to be about 3 or 4 years old. The runner in the pink shirt took her daughter’s hand and they finished the race together. Tears were streaming down my face as I realized this is why we do this every year: so that little girl doesn’t have to lose her mom, and so that little girl doesn’t have to worry about being diagnosed with breast cancer.
Since the first NW Ohio/Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure in 1994, we’ve raised millions of dollars to help provide breast cancer screening, education and treatment to women right here in Northwest Ohio. Seventy-five percent of the money stays in our community. Last year, more than 5,000 women in our area received mammograms, treatment and support services through funds raised at the Race for the Cure. The other 25 percent of the money raised goes to the national Susan G. Komen for the Cure organization for breast cancer research. Charity Navigator ranks Komen for the Cure as a four-star charity, the highest ranking available. That means your money is well-spent when you give to Susan G. Komen.
If you haven’t registered for this year’s Race for the Cure, what are you waiting for?
Think about those pink shirts. Think about that little girl. Then, arm yourself with a pair of sneakers, and come prepared for battle at 9 a.m. Sept. 27.
I promise it will be an inspirational experience you’ll never forget.
WTOL-TV news anchor Chrys Peterson has been the honorary Chairwoman for the Race for the Cure for the past 15 years.