It’s been a few days, but I’m still pretty jazzed up following my first ever Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure to boost awareness and raise money for breast cancer research. This race just happened to be in Central Park in New York City with 15,000 of my closest friends. I’ll admit I was slightly intimidated about getting into Manhattan and finding my way among so many people, but I was buoyed by your overwhelming support via Facebook, Twitter, email, and text. Family and friends and radio listeners took time to offer encouragement, donate to my campaign, or share their own stories of triumph and loss.
As I got close to Central Park last Sunday morning, I could feel the surge of energy and excitement as so many converged on the same space. Bands and sound systems blared music; cheerleaders waved their poms; TV cameras captured the excitement; and dozens of shades of PINK threatened to take over the Upper West Side. When I picked up my runner’s tag, I wrote the names of the people for whom I was specifically running: Grandma Mary, Barbara, Gary, Scott, and Porter. Three of them are currently battling cancer; the other two have passed away. The race is the LEAST I can do to be part of this critical fight against a disease that touches so many. Statistics indicate one in eight women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in her lifetime. An estimated 40,000 Americans (women and men) will die from this particular form of cancer in 2013. The money generated through Komen Race for the Cure funds breast health exams, mammograms for the uninsured, and education programs to raise awareness. Last year, the donations in NYC alone provided support and assistance for more than 175,000 people! Wow!
Once I pushed my way through the mob of people to reach the start line and began to run, I had plenty to look at > the bright blue sky and sunshine filtering through the trees in Central Park; local residents and volunteers planted along the race route who cheered on the glut of particpants; the various teams banded together by matching t-shirts or tutus or huge pink foam whale hats. The images that will stick with me forever are the neon pink signs on the backs of the runners. Lots of them printed “Mom” and included pictures of their loved ones. There was a teeny little girl with a long blonde ponytail keeping up with the adults. Her sign read “Mommy” and alongside, her mother ran with a sign that read “Myself.” That one nearly brought me to tears. A group of racers in wheelchairs navigated the Park together, and a fireman ran in the heat and humidity in full FDNY gear.
After five years working on the ESPN Radio V-Foundation Auction to raise money for cancer research, I really missed being part of that amazing event in 2013. I missed the teamwork element of joining a group of people who pour their hearts, souls, time, and creativity into a cause that means so much to them. So there was no way I wasn’t signing up for the Komen Race for the Cure when CBS fielded a team. I figured it would be an emotional experience, but I wasn’t prepared to be overwhelmed. There was definitely teamwork as well as camaraderie and compassion and unmistakeable determination…not only to finish the race but to spread light and hope in the midst of what can be dark shadows cast by this disease. I was inspired, encouraged, lifted up, and then carried along those 3.1 miles on Sunday morning. Can’t wait for the next opportunity to run breast cancer out of town!
One final HUGE thanks to those of you who reached out with your kind words, your own stories, and your support. Using the analogy that life is one big long race, I’m grateful for all of my fellow runners. Amy XO