Over 8,000 participants gathered early Sunday morning at the Baxter Arena to participate in the annual Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure, sponsored by KMTV. Jennifer Griswold, Craig Nigrelli, and Mary Nelson were all out in pink, emceeing the event.
Racers started in the arena getting their racing bibs, taking survivor pictures, and showing off their pink bling. Men and women sported pink tutus, headbands, t-shirts, novelty glasses, and more.
The 5k run and 1-mile walk took them around Aksarben Village and Elmwood Park. Some walked for themselves, others for friends and loved ones.
“Friends don’t let friends beat breast cancer alone,” Megan Hickey read off the back of her team’s shirts.
Megan works at Midwest Regional Health Services. Her coworkers came to walk with her. For them, this is about more than a t-shirt slogan or a one-day commitment.
“We’re gonna support her in every way we can, the whole journey,” said coworker Charlie Alvarado.
Cancer survivor Leslie Baxter was joined in the walk by her daughters. She was diagnosed with breast cancer two years ago.
“Went through chemo, radiation, surgery, and just think the breast cancer walk is a great thing to celebrate,” said Baxter.
Jake Ridder ran the 5K while his family joined in for the walk.
“We’re running for Kim Schwartz. She’s my cousin and she’s a survivor,” said Ridder. He said that it’s important to him and other men to show support for this cause.
“Guys have to support their wives, and males can have this disease, too. You hear a lot of people saying they’re running for their daughters or their wives or their mothers or their aunts. So it really becomes like a family affair,” said Ridder.
All were joined in the cause to raise money for breast cancer research, treatment, and screenings.
“One of the things Komen once to do is to get mammogram vans out into the community. So they could be, say, at a church function. They could be at a farmer’s market – where women go,” said Donna Polk, honorary chairperson for the race and cancer survivor.
Tami Winther was diagnosed last December and went through four months of chemo. While she said her treatment was successful and not too difficult, for many the journey is long and hard.
“They’ve got better drugs to counteract those side effects, so it makes it a little more tolerable, but they’re still putting the same poisons in you. And there’s got to be something different. Something that kills the cancer and doesn’t harm you in the process,” said Winther.
Some of the racers were there in memory of those that have lost their battle, but today’s race reminded these men and women that they aren’t alone, and there is hope.
This year the race raised over $220,000, which is still short of their $800,000 goal. Seventy five percent of the proceeds go to breast health programs in Nebraska.