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TAKING STEPS TOWARD BETTER HEALTH: How an Annual Mini Marathon focuses on preventative health in North Omaha

Posted at 11:44 AM, Apr 07, 2024
and last updated 2024-04-07 12:44:31-04
  • It’s a very short walk that leaves a very big impact. This year's 26.2 Step Mini Marathon moved to a part of the metro that could best benefit from it’s message.


The Annual 26.2 Step Mini Marathon is a fun experience for participants, it might be hard to believe it was started by something not so fun.

“I started it eight years ago,” Denise Ibsen-Cole, founder 26.2 Step Mini Marathon said. “I am a marathon runner who is klutzy. I walked off a retaining wall and broke my hip.”

Ibsen-Cole turned that negative into a positive.

“It started at the cancer survivor park where those wood trellises are at and it’s about 30 steps between them,” She said. “I go, that's gonna be my marathon.”

Her experience was the inspiration behind the mini marathon, an event put on by the University of Nebraska Medical Center and Nebraska Medicine that spreads awareness about the importance of keeping up with preventive healthcare.

It’s a topic especially important to the black community which is why it was brought to the UNMC Nebraska Medicine Community Wellness Collaborative in North Omaha for the first time Saturday.

“They asked us if we could collaborate with them and give more awareness to the community about cancer risks as well as genetic testing.” Lisa Butler-Walker, UNMC Nebraska Medicine Community Collaborative said.

Shanda Ross is the director of engagement for the diversity and inclusion department for the collaborative, and said the disparity among black people is been seen in the outcome of cancer diagnoses

“We have higher death rates and outcomes that are ones that we can make improvements if this community knows what they need to do to prevent cancer.” Ross said.

An example, according to CDC data, black women face and non hispanic white women get diagnosed with breast cancer at the same rate, but black women are 40% more likely to die from it.

Ross says getting proper screenings and annual primary care visits are just some of the steps to take on the path to better health from this and many other cancer that disproportionately impact black people.

“Instead of guessing, instead of running away, we want people to embrace it,” Ross said. “Being informed with what they need to do with their healthcare.”

UNMC and Nebraska Medicine are also collaborating on another community event focusing on bike safety.