Racing for a Cure

September 25, 2009
Click here to hear Kathy Thompson's amazing story of survival

Click here to hear Kathy Thompson's amazing story of survival

On Sunday morning, downtown Toledo will become a battleground.  The enemy: breast cancer.  The warriors: 18,000-plus men, women and children.  The weapon: their feet!  

Many of the warriors already have battle scars: those wearing pink shirts and pink caps are breast cancer survivors.  This year, there will be more than 1,200 of them: some running, some walking, some being pushed in wheelchairs or riding on the trolley because they’re going through treatment and are simply too weak to take the steps.  If you watch the crowd, you’ll see people patting them on the back, cheering them on, and giving them hugs; complete strangers in some cases offering encouragement and thanks to those who continue to fight.  

And it’s not just ladies wearing those pink shirts.  At least three men who are survivors will be wearing pink too.  Surprised?  The only criteria for developing breast cancer is having breasts and that includes women and men.     

Some in the crowd have already lost loved ones to the enemy.   Leslie Droll’s family members will be there remembering their wife, mom and grandma.   The emotion is still raw for the Drolls.  Leslie just lost her battle a year ago after fighting breast cancer for 14 years.   She walked in the Race every year after her diagnosis, proudly wearing her pink shirt.   This year’s Race for the Cure is in Memory of Leslie Droll. 

Click here to hear Leslie Droll's inspirational story

Click here to hear Leslie Droll's inspirational story

Looking around in the crowd, it’s not hard to see why so many people participate.   People walk with names and pictures on their backs celebrating loved ones who are breast cancer survivors, and remembering loved ones who have died from the disease.   

As honorary chairperson for the NW Ohio/Komen Race for the Cure for the past 15 years, I’ve witnessed many incredible and inspirational stories:  high school friends reunited 20 years later on the race route, both wearing pink survivor shirts; a high school football team pushing a mom in a wheelchair; a 24 year old woman who’d shaved her head the night before the race because her hair was falling out from her chemo treatment. 

I’ve been completely inspired by so many scenes, but the one that always sticks with me happened a few years ago.  I was watching the first runners cross the finish line and I saw a woman in a pink shirt running toward me.  When she got about a block from the finish line, a man in the crowd pushed a little girl into the street.  She looked to be about 3 or 4 years old.  The runner in the pink shirt took her daughter’s hand and they finished the race together.  Tears were streaming down my face as I realized this is why we do this every year: so that little girl doesn’t have to lose her mom, and so that little girl doesn’t have to worry about being diagnosed with breast cancer. 

Since the first NW Ohio/Komen Race for the Cure in 1994, we’ve raised millions of dollars to help provide breast cancer screening, education and treatment to women right here in Northwest Ohio.  75% of the money stays in our community. Last year, more than 5,000 women in our area received mammograms, treatment, and support services through funds raised at the Race for the Cure.   The other 25% of the money raised goes to the national Komen for the Cure organization for breast cancer research.    Charity Navigator ranks Komen for the Cure as a 4-star charity, the highest ranking available.  That means your money is well-spent when you give to Komen. 

If you haven’t registered for this year’s Race for the Cure, what are you waiting for?

Think about those pink shirts.  Think about that little girl.  Then arm yourself with a pair of sneakers, and come prepared for battle Sunday, September 27th at 9 AM.  

I promise it will be an inspirational experience you’ll never forget.



  1. I am the daughter of one of the high school friends that were reunited after 20 years. And every year those two friends cross the finish line together. And it’s another year that they have survived!! Thanks to all of you that support the Northwest Ohio Race for The Cure!! See you Sunday!!

  2. Hi Deven! Love seeing those girls every year!! See you Sunday!

  3. Hi Chrys, I am that mom that the Whitmer football team pushed in a wheelchair two years ago. My son has now graduated, and is in pre-med at Univ of Toledo. I will never forget that first race for the cure and all the survivors I have met. Those football players were my rock through a very difficult time. I am now a 2 year survivor and currently working as a RN supervisor for Regency Hospital of Toledo. I am so proud to be part of such a supporting, family oriented organization. They are sponsoring our staff this year,for the first time in the walk for the cure. Their logo is “We give people their lives back”. I certainly have mine back. I will be walking this year in memory of my friend, Debbie Wexler, who lost her battle to breast cancer last year. I will never forget her strength and friendship. Here’s to you Debbie!! You’ll never walk alone!

  4. Hi Candace!! So glad to hear you’re doing well!! Say hi on Sunday!

  5. I have told my friends that I really want to do this next year.I’ve lost some dear to me because of this and they need to find a cure soon. If my health allows me, I will be there, walking with everyone slse!

  6. Thank you, Kathy! We’ll see you next year!! 🙂

  7. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OEdVfyt-mLw Chrys, check this out. It is so very awesome!!!

  8. Awesome, Shirley! I just saw this for the first time a couple of days ago!!

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