Every year, the Susan G. Komen Northwest Ohio Race for the Cure draws thousands of people who support the fight against breast cancer to downtown Toledo and the campus of Blanchard Valley Hospital in Findlay. But this year, in light of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, Race for the Cure will look a bit different.
Because breast cancer hasn’t been defeated yet and the need for breast cancer programming and research has not diminished, Komen’s signature annual fundraiser will go forward—but with a twist this time around. In the interest of protecting the health and safety of Race for the Cure participants, many of whom are breast cancer survivors and those living with the disease, this year’s event is going virtual.
“While we wish we could be together in person for the 2020 Race for the Cure, we are encouraging all of our breast cancer survivors and those living with metastatic disease as well as friends and supporters to walk or run 3.1 miles in their neighborhood, at their local park, or in any other location that allows safe social distancing throughout the month of September. Then stay home on Sunday, September 27th, grab your coffee and breakfast, and watch the virtual race event on WTOL,” says Mary Westphal, Executive Director of Susan G. Komen Northwest Ohio.
Westphal assures HLN readers that, despite the changes, opportunities for participants to have fun and express their support creatively definitely won’t be missing from the Virtual Race for the Cure. For example, this year’s event marks the debut of Virtual Spirit Weeks, which kicked off in August with Throwback Week, Chalk Your Walk Week, and Wellness Week. The fun continues throughout September with the following Spirit Week themes:
Week of September 7: Entertainer of the Year
Week of September 14: Mix It Up Pink
Make a pink mocktail or cocktail. Use one of Komen’s recipes or make your own. Share a photo and review online using the hashtags #racewhereyouare and #race419thecure for a chance to win.
Week of September 21: Paint the Town Pink
Pink out everything! Jazz up your t-shirt, throw on a boa, and load up your Komen spirit wear. Take a fun photo of yourself or your entire team and share them online for a chance to win. Hang your window sign and decorate your home and office throughout the week.
Westphal emphasizes that going virtual due to the pandemic doesn’t mean this year’s Race for the Cure is any less vital to those whose lives are touched by breast cancer. “COVID-19 may have taken a fun weekend from us, but breast cancer robs our friends, loved ones, and neighbors of their health, their hair, their bodies, and, for some, even their lives. We can’t stop because breast cancer doesn’t stop. That’s why we need our community to rise up, register, fundraise, and then celebrate the fight against this terrible disease,” she states.
The fundraising element of Race for the Cure is especially critical this year. Due to COVID-19, many women have delayed their screenings, and many more have lost their jobs or health insurance. As a result, Komen Northwest Ohio anticipates the breast cancer and breast health needs in our community will be even greater in the coming year and asks for the community to help meet this already-surging need.
Participants can rest assured that any dollars they help raise will be well spent. In fact, 75 percent of the money raised through Race for the Cure goes to fund vital local breast health services, such as diagnostic testing and breast health education, and the remaining 25 percent is used to fund cutting-edge research in areas such as metastatic stage 4 breast cancer, triple-negative breast cancer, new therapies, and advanced genetic testing.
Each year, Race for the Cure pays special tribute to a breast cancer survivor and an inspirational individual who lost their life to breast cancer, and this tradition will be upheld for the virtual race. The “In Celebration Of” and “In Memory Of” tributes are a way for Komen Northwest Ohio to recognize inspirational individuals who have had a profound impact on those around them despite their breast cancer diagnosis. This year’s race will be held “In Celebration Of” Sheryl Wingate (Toledo honoree) and Joella Hamlin (Findlay honoree) and “In Memory Of” Dennis Crippen (Toledo honoree).