Special to The Collegian
Nearly 5,000 participants took part in the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure, to fight breast cancer and promote awareness, on Saturday at Fresno State.
The day marked the 15-year anniversary of the event in the Central Valley.
Sharon Johnson, executive director of the Susan G. Komen for the Cure Central Valley Affiliate, said she was proud of the community for stepping up with this year’s donations and registrations.
“I am a two-time breast cancer survivor and participated in my first race a year after I was treated in 2001,” Johnson said.
She said what got her involved wasn’t her own experience, but the experience of a friend.
“I promised her if I did anything at all I would tell women that if a doctor ignores their plea for help, they needed a second opinion,” Johnson said.
Michelle Thompson, volunteer coordinator, said she was in charge of recruiting volunteers and assigning them for the day of the race. She said the race was started by Carolyn Jorgensen after Jorgensen read about the series of Susan G.
Komen races in a runners magazine.
“Carolyn passed away a few years ago because she got a reoccurrence of breast cancer,” Thompson said. “She was a survivor so we kind of dedicate this in her memory.”
Thompson said the event is now known across the nation and has raised as much as $200,000 in some years.
She said fundraising starts as early as May and goes into the pool for the entire event.
“It’s always the third or fourth week of October when the event takes place,” Thompson said. “We’ve been here at Fresno State almost ten years, and I think the partnership with the school is what makes everything work so well, because a lot of students are involved and volunteers participate.”
Melinda Rios, a volunteer and alumna of California State University, Fullerton, said this was her third year helping out at Fresno State.
“I’ve had several family members, cousins, aunts, uncles and friends who have been taken by breast cancer as well as survived breast cancer, so this is my way of giving back,” Rios said. “With my sorority, it gives us the opportunity to be out here as a sponsor.”
Rios said the community has been phenomenal with all the local sponsors along with boosting recognition of the race in the Central Valley.
“This run is special in that it is dedicated to breast cancer awareness and research, but it also brings to like that men can as well get breast cancer, which a lot of people may not think about,” Rios said. “It’s something that does not discriminate across gender lines or racial lines but just really helps bring the issue to a forefront in that early detection is the best way to prevent breast cancer.”
Lori Cooper, a runner, said she was introduced to the event by Jody Jo from 93.7 Kiss Country.
“Knowing that Jody Jo is battling cancer right now, I set up a fundraiser at my home about a month ago to raise some money for it and bring her the donations,” Cooper said. “Remember, $240 can save a life.”
Cooper said she never participated in a run like this before, but feels there is a connection to the event since her grandmothers both had breast cancer.
“I am very excited to do this run and enjoy seeing so many young people here,” Cooper said. “I’m going to run, walk, crawl and get it done one way or the other.”