Beating cancer with every step

On the day before Mother’s Day we ran for my mother in-law, who has fought both breast cancer and melanoma the way she continues to live, with dignity, strength and grace.

We ran for our friend Karen, mother of two sweet little boys, who is waging a fierce battle against ovarian cancer courageously and cheekily.

We ran for our friend Trina, who fought her cancer hard and left a legacy of support though the Trina Fund.

We ran for our friend Tami, a cancer survivor and Sole Burner board member.

We ran to support people we admire tremendously and to fight a disease we despise.

And by ran I mean earnestly jogged.

For 30 years the Sole Burner 5K has been raising funds for cancer research. This year more than 7,000 walkers and runners gathered at City Park in Appleton, less than a mile from our house. The event raised approximately $370,000 and drew people from across the state.

We walked from our house to the starting line and mingled with fellow participants throughout the park. Molly’s singing teacher Carol Jegen, a breast cancer survivor, performed a beautiful rendition of the national anthem.

And then we took off.

I tucked in behind a worthy competitor and settled in to enjoy the race. Never mind that my personal pacesetter’s T-shirt hung to his knees and his little legs zigzagged back and forth across the street. There’s no shame in drafting off a six-year old and don’t let anyone tell you differently.

I nearly tripped over the little guy when I waved at a bongo drum player on Pacific Street.

Two-thirds of the way through my race, I lost my little pal in the crowd and I chugged on alone.

Meanwhile, about that time, Sarah Hurley, of Washington D.C. crossed the finish line and won the woman’s division of the race.

I spent the last stretch of my race alternately marveling at the beautiful weather and reading the backs of the inspiring T-shirts in front of me.

My favorite shirt read “We’re beating cancer with every step.”

Pre-race, pre-shower, don’t look too closely.
Molly took a few shots of the participants gathering in the park.
The walkers line up on the north side of the park, the runners on the south side. The backs of the T-shirts told some inspiring, and some poignant stories.
The walkers take off! (Full disclosure: We don’t know any of the people in this photo. I asked Molly to meet us at the starting line and she accidentally went to the walkers starting line instead of the runners starting line so we never saw her. She gamely shot photos anyway.)

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