Racing for the past, present and futureWritten by Chrys Peterson | | firstname.lastname@example.org
For 16 years, I’ve had the privilege of serving as honorary chair for the Northwest Ohio Komen Race for the Cure. People often ask me why I support Susan G. Komen for the Cure. The answer is simple: I race for the past, the present and especially for the future.
In years past, two of my relatives have been diagnosed with breast cancer. They’re both doing well now.
But this year, my resolve to find a cure is greater than ever because a few months ago I lost one of my dearest friends to breast cancer. Gretchen Skeldon was just 32 when she was diagnosed and 47 when she died in February.
Gretchen was a devoted mother, wife, sister and friend, a vice president at Libbey Glass and an inspiration to everyone she met. Because she was so young when she was diagnosed with breast cancer, and because she battled it with such grace, I asked her many times to talk to other young women who were newly diagnosed. She always made the time to offer her support and share her experiences with them. She also volunteered countless hours to raise money and awareness for breast cancer through NW Ohio Komen for the Cure. She never shied away from an opportunity to help and truly believed a cure would be found in her lifetime.
I am heartbroken our efforts to find a cure didn’t come in time to save my friend. This year, I race for Gretchen.
But there are thousands of other women who are fighting breast cancer today. One of those women is Brandy Gilleland, a single mom of two in her early 30s. Brandy has graciously allowed us to chronicle her breast cancer battle on WTOL for nearly a year. She’s undergone a double mastectomy, two rounds of chemo and is getting ready to start radiation. She’s shown incredible courage fighting her battle in front of thousands of television viewers and she’s doing it with the hope that something she learns on her journey will help other women who watch her story.
This year, for the first time, Brandy will wear the pink cap and pink shirt designated for breast cancer survivors. This year, I race for Brandy.
I also race for the thousands of women and men who will be diagnosed with breast cancer in the future. A few years ago at the Race for the Cure, that part of the mission became crystal clear to me as I stood at the finish line, watching the first few runners come in. The streets were lined with spectators cheering on the runners as they made their last push toward the finish.
Suddenly, a young woman wearing the breast cancer survivor’s pink shirt and cap came into focus. She was running at a pretty steady pace, with a look of determination on her face. About two blocks from the finish line, a man pushed a little girl out into the street toward the woman. The determination softened into a smile as she took her 3-year-old daughter’s hand, and the two of them crossed the finish line together. Tears ran down my face as I realized that mom was participating in the Race hoping her daughter wouldn’t have to hear the same diagnosis she had. I race for that little girl … and for my own 10-year-old daughter Riley.
The NW Ohio Komen Race for the Cure gives all of us an opportunity to help save a life. Seventy-five percent of the money raised stays right here in our community to pay for breast cancer screening, treatment and education. The other 25 percent goes toward research to find a cure. The 17th annual NW Ohio Komen Race for the Cure is Sept. 26 in Downtown Toledo.
Take a minute to think about all the reasons you have to join us: the women from your past, present and future. I don’t want to see another little girl lose her mommy or another husband lose his wife.
Who will you race for?
Chrys Peterson is the weekday evening anchor on WTOL News 11 at 5 p.m.,
6 p.m. and 11 p.m. E-mail her at email@example.com.