Sandra Navarro usually runs for records and medals. On Saturday, however, Navarro was running for a different cause.
The Fresno State junior joined thousands of people who gathered at Fresno State for the 17th annual Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure, an event that raises funds for breast cancer research.
Navarro volunteered for the event as a representative for her former cross country team at Fresno City College.
“I’m still in close contact with the Fresno City coach and we do this every year,” Navarro said. “Some of the people on the team have a tie with breast cancer. I know I do. One of my aunts has breast cancer. This is a way to raise awareness for her also.”
Many of the volunteers woke up early Saturday morning to take part in the 5K run or the 1-mile walk along the Fresno State campus.
Navarro took first place in the 5K race.
“Running is becoming a big thing,” she said. “I think it’s great for bringing people together for an event like this.”
Sharon Johnson, executive director of Susan G. Komen Central Valley, said the event is the main fund raiser in the Valley for breast cancer research.
“This is what saves lives here in the Central Valley,” Johnson said. “We fund education, screenings and treatment with proceeds.”
The organization has not yet determined how much money has been raised at this year’s event, but donations can still be made online at komencentralvalley.org.
“For those that didn’t participate [Saturday] that wanna have a real impact on what we raise, they can donate online,” Johnson said.
More than 3,000 people came to this year’s event, which was put together by about 200 volunteers.
“It’s a lot of work,” Johnson said. “It’s a year in planning. Sponsorship starts a year before this event. And then of course you have to solicit volunteers.”
After all the hard work, organizers are pleased with the results.
“First of all, it’s a great family fitness event. If you wanna run a 5K, you can. Or if you wanna walk, you can,” Johnson said. “I think the camaraderie between the survivors is what’s really important too. There are women that are making life-long friends today because they don’t know a lot of these breast cancer survivors. It gives them the opportunity to talk among themselves.”
Nicole Butler was one of the many breast cancer survivors who joined friends and family to attend Saturday’s event.
“Anytime you can support survivors or people that are going through the battle right now, they need that,” Butler said. “Mentally you go through a real tough challenge. Not only with your treatment, but in your mind also. You’re think ‘is this gonna happen? Is this how I’m gonna go?’ Whenever you have support from friends and family like this, you can’t go wrong.”
Butler, who was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2012, attended the event for the first time.
“The more money we put into research, the better chance we have to find a cure,” Butler said. “One in eight women are diagnosed and over 50,000 women die every year from breast cancer. That’s way too many.”