Running to fight the odds

Bend race for breast cancer research attracts hundreds more than last year

By Rachael Scarborough King / The Bulletin
Published: June 04. 2007 5:00AM PST

Drake Park was awash in pink – spray-painted pink sneakers, pink baseball caps and pink T-shirts and running shorts – as thousands of people ran and walked a 5K course Sunday to support breast cancer research.

The eighth annual Heaven Can Wait race, which encompassed a circular course beginning and ending in Drake Park, attracted about 2,600 people, according to organizers’ estimates. Officials said that is about a 10 percent increase over last year’s turnout for the event, which raises money for the St. Charles Foundation’s Sara Fisher Breast Cancer Project.

Relaxing around a food tent after the race, some participants and onlookers carried signs that read, “Save the Ta Ta’s” and “Give a Hand for Healthy Boobs!!!”

Race Director Charlene Levesque said Sunday that she does not know yet how much money this year’s event raised, but the race took in about $76,000 last year.

“Money is my fourth reason for putting on this event, so it’s kind of afterward,” Levesque said, adding that the main goals of the race are to raise awareness about breast cancer and encourage healthy activities like walking and running.

Levesque started Heaven Can Wait in 2000 after she was diagnosed with breast cancer, according to the event’s Web site.

For many people, the race was a family affair, with participants pinning notes to their T-shirts with the names of family and friends who have had the disease. Many breast cancer survivors, distinguished by special blue baseball caps, also ran and walked.

Karen Brockway, who said she was diagnosed with breast cancer in December, was joined by her husband and teenage son and daughter in walking the course. Brockway, 45, said it helped her to be part of the supportive crowd.

“It’s part of the healing,” she said.

Her daughter, Sarah, 13, added that it felt good to participate in the event.

“(It’s) a feeling of helping someone else that’s not as fortunate,” Sarah said.

Ryan and Dorothy Miller also did the course as a family, pushing their 17-month-old son Nate in a stroller. Dorothy Miller said this was her fourth year participating in Heaven Can Wait, and Ryan and Nate were there for the second year in a row.

“A friend of mine got me to do it the first time and I was so moved by the opening remarks that I kept at it,” said Dorothy Miller, 34, adding that she and her husband have some relatives who are cancer survivors.

“It’s a great cause and it’s nice that so much of the money stays locally,” Ryan Miller, 35, said.

About 600 people ran in the timed race, Levesque said, which included prizes like gift certificates for the top three runners in each age category. The overall winner was Lisa Nye, 43, of Bend, who completed the course in just more than 18 minutes.

Another race participant, Melissa Jacot, said she has recently taken up running and added, “I wanted to challenge myself with a 5K.”

“I participated because I have friends that are survivors of breast cancer and I wanted to run in their honor,” Jacot, 46, said. “It raises awareness, and really the camaraderie you feel with all the other walkers and participants is really cool.”

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