|They walked for me!|
I don't remember exactly what year it was, maybe 1996 or so, when our friends John and Donna told us that Donna had breast cancer. It was a shock, of course. She was very young, not even 40 I think (sorry Donna, guestimating at some of this). Shortly after, Donna asked us to walk with them in Kansas City's Komen Race for the Cure; and thus began a long tradition of friends getting up very early that Sunday in early August, the guys passing on their usual tee time, and along with a few other family and friends we met at the race location and participated in the Race for the Cure. Donna and some of her family always did the 5k; some of us occasionally did the shorter version. But we always did it - we started out together and we met up afterwards for breakfast. It was a fun atmosphere, even though the reason was serious. And it was even more serious when Donna had a recurrence and threw the proverbial "book" at her second bout.
Donna became very active in the Komen Foundation and even walked in the Washington, DC, event which was ginormous by KC standards. She had a lot to do with how the Kansas City event grew over the years. She and her fellow volunteers organized a survivor event, which I attended with her last year after I, too, became a survivor.
I got involved in small ways. I volunteered to help distribute team race materials for two years. One year I brought our friend Angie, who was a survivor and had never participated in the race. By chance, she was interviewed by the local press as we walked the race and ended up in the local newspaper. And I had a lady who worked for me - Bev. Bev had been a Stage IV survivor for more than a decade and was not doing so well that August. I wanted her to see how many people were out there, supporting the cause, to find a cure. She didn't have enough energy to walk, but Bev and I climbed up to a crossover and got a view of more than 20,000 people that year. And we did get her to the survivor parade. She ALWAYS wore a smile.
Breast cancer has taken both of these brave ladies.
Some people complain about Komen, they think they've gotten too big, they think they've cheapened the brand by letting too many businesses use "for the cure" and they are spending too much money fighting a lawsuit to protect their brand. I'm not sure how I feel about all this "political" stuff. What I do know is that up to 75% of proceeds from local races remain in the community for breast health screening, education and local research projects.
And these races give hope and put smiles on the faces of hundreds of thousands of survivors across this country.
Maybe next year!