TRI-CITIES, Tenn. (WJHL) — The coronavirus pandemic continues to cancel events across the country. As one could imagine, a group of cancer survivors is not going to let the virus cancel the annual Tri-Cities Race for the Cure.
Some big changes are keeping this year’s fundraiser alive.
The race will now be virtual; taking place online as social distancing guidelines ban large gatherings.
Race for the Cure is the biggest fundraiser for the Susan G. Komen foundation. It funds breast cancer research and also helps breast cancer survivors get life-saving treatment.
“75 percent of the funds we raise remain in our local community,” says Amy Dunaway, Executive Director for Susan G. Komen East TN. “We’re also providing patient financial assistance and that’s not going to stop just because of this global pandemic.”
Participating in this year’s race looks a bit different.
“Take a picture of yourself with your race t-shirt, tag us in that picture, put it on social media and join us Saturday the 18th at 11:30 on our Facebook page for our survivor celebration,” says Dunaway.
For survivors like Judy Cross, taking part in the 5k is still possible in your own way.
“This would be my 6th year participating,” says Cross. “It’s great to be involved, even though we don’t get to meet and run a 5k. Basically any day that hasn’t been raining, I’ve been running a 5k in honor of the one we don’t get to run.”
And for Christy Smith, 5 weeks post-op following her first surgery, the race was something to look forward to.
“I signed up for it right before my surgery because I thought this would be a good motivation for me to get back on my feet,” says Smith.
Smith had her prophylactic mastectomy in March after discovering she had a cancer-linked gene mutation. She and her family are still planning to take part in their first Race for the Cure to celebrate.
“We are gonna get out and walk in our neighborhood this week and do the 3 miles, the 5K together,” says Smith.
Even online, it’s a close-knit community of survivors and supporters.
“We’re still all in this together. There is still a sisterhood of pink, as they put it,” says Cross.
This is a group that cannot be broken by anything; not cancer, and not COVID-19.
“Let people see that you’re still out, still trying to support breast cancer research,” says Smith.
“It’s not only important to raise that money, but to provide that support for those survivors and thrivers that are going through this battle right now. They need to know they are loved and feel that love and support,” says Dunaway.
Register online for the Tri-Cities Race for the Cure now, and receive your race packet and t-shirt in the mail.
As you flood social media with pink throughout the week and on race day Saturday, tag the Susan G. Komen East TN Tri-Cities Facebook page.
Also make sure to tune in on the page Saturday for the race events on Facebook live, including the survivor celebration at 11:30 a.m.