Linda Brown, of Bellevue, IA was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2009, and will be five years cancer-free in March 2014. On Sunday, Brown joined her daughter, Hailey, to help raise awareness about cancer and support the ongoing search for a cure.
“I wanted to come out here today and support everybody that has gone through cancer.” Brown said. “Hopefully they can find a cure for this cancer.”
Brown and her daughter united with more than 15,000 individuals in the “Especially for You” walk and run Sunday morning at the Hall-Perrine Cancer Center in downtown Cedar Rapids.
Participants chose to either walk one mile or run 5 kilometers and many were part of teams supporting and celebrating survivors or walking in honor of loved ones lost.
“Our friend Theresa died a year and a half ago,” said Amanda Leitza. “We just think this is really important.”
Leitza and her friends have run in the “Especially for You” race for the last five years, always dressing up in bright pink wigs and tutus. This year, in memory of Theresa, they all wore shirts with her name and stuck together in the crowd.
Many teams wore different outfits, touted slogans like “Jens Breast Friend” or “Hakunama-TaTa” in support of breast cancer awareness. Teams were comprised of all different sizes, ages and locations. Participants in the walk were from 480 cities and towns in 35 states and 4 different countries. The youngest participants registered were under 4 years old and neither ran nor walked, but rode in strollers, and the oldest registered participant was 93 years.
Despite all these differences in participants, all runners, walkers, riders and spectators joined the race to help raise money and awareness for breast cancer. The funds raised today by these team members will help fund research and treatment for cancer locally.
“Every day it’s just a blessing to know that the money we raise right here is staying here to help individuals in need access breast care services they might not otherwise be able to afford,” said Michelle Cole, “Especially for You” race director. “This is phenomenal, we have such a generous community.”
Race officials projected that this race could raise more than $370,000 which could give local cancer patients access to treatment services like ultrasounds and mammograms.
“Last year, we gave 773 people access to 1,000 different services,” Cole said. “Those are people in our community, our friends, coworkers, neighbors and loved ones that might not have been able to access them without our support.”