More than 600 people participated in the Cornell University Jill’s Legacy Jog for Jill, a five kilometer run held at the Cornell Plantations on Sunday in honor of Ingrid Nuñez ’14, who was diagnosed with Stage IV lung cancer in March.
After Carolyn Levitan ’13 and Hannah Geiser ’13 learned of Nuñez’s diagnosis, they decided to partner with Jill’s Legacy and the Bonnie J. Addario Lung Cancer Foundation to support Nuñez and raise awareness about lung cancer.
“[We wanted to address the] stigma of lung cancer and the misconception that people that get lung cancer are smokers,” Levitan said. “The idea of this run is to raise money to save people in the future from this diagnosis and to support Ingrid.”
Geiser agreed, emphasizing that she became involved with planning the event to support Nuñez’s fight against lung cancer.
“It was my hope that with organizing this run I could not only raise money for lung cancer research, but more importantly, spread awareness and change the stigma surrounding this horrible disease, all the while supporting the fight of an amazing individual,” Geiser said.
Nuñez said that seeing the Cornell community come together to support her and her cause was incredible.
“Seeing so many people at the jog that I didn’t even know and having them come up to me and telling me I’m an inspiration makes me feel a way I’ve never felt before,” she said. “It’s amazing.”
The Cornell Jog for Jill 5K is affiliated with a series of events held in conjunction with the Bonnie J. Addario Lung Cancer Foundation and Jill’s Legacy, an advisory board of young professionals personally touched by lung cancer. All the proceeds will be donated to the foundation for lung cancer research grants and awareness campaigns, said Darby Anderson, events associate for the Addario Lung Cancer Foundation.
“We [hold] Jog for Jill 5Ks around the country to raise awareness for lung cancer, and [when] we heard about Ingrid and her story, we immediately got in touch with her because her story is so similar to that of Jill [Costello, for whom the run is named],” Anderson said.
Although this Jog for Jill event is the first to be held at a college campus — past 5K runs were all held in cities — donations for this event have already surpassed the team’s initial goal. As of Sunday evening, donations totalled $44,357, with 676 registered runners at the event.
“The initial goal that Jill’s Legacy had set for us was $15,000. As time went on, we increased this goal in our conversations and thought we could maybe hit $30,000 … People could also register at the event, and online donations are open for three months after the race,” Levitan said.
Additionally, Anderson said she hopes that the Cornell Jog for Jill will become an annual event.
“It’s become hugely successful this year,” Anderson said.
The run attracted people from throughout the Cornell and greater Ithaca communities. Sponsored by the Greek Tri-Council, there was representation from many sororities and fraternities, Levitan said. Geiser added that the Athletics Department and the Hotel School, which Nuñez attends, played large roles in advertising the event.
Vice President for Student and Academic Services Susan Murphy ’73 expressed her support for lung cancer awareness, calling Ingrid an inspiration to the community. Murphy said she chose to speak at the event because of her personal connection to the disease and because the response from the community aligned with Cornell’s mission as a caring community.
“I lost my brother to lung cancer, so I have a special affinity towards research in this area. I wanted to be supportive of what they’re doing,” Murphy said.
Belinda Platt ’13 said she became involved with the event because of her bond with Nuñez as sorority sisters in Kappa Alpha Theta. Platt helped publicize the event by chalking and staffing tables throughout campus.
“While it is devastating to know that Ingrid has to live with the terrible burden of cancer, I could think of no better advocate than her,” Platt said. “She has the best outlook and perspective on life … And because of these things, people can’t help but to be generous.”
Ellen Alexander ’13, one of the winners of the 5K, echoed Platt’s sentiment.
“As a sister of Kappa Alpha Theta, Ingrid’s fight against lung cancer is close to my heart. I was so impressed by the fundraising, and it was incredible to see how many students, alumni, parents and professors came out to support her,” Alexander said. “It’s truly inspiring to see the community come together to find a cure and to help her win this battle.”
In addition to the Cornell Jog for Jill event, students raised funds to cover Nuñez’s cancer treatment costs through a benefit concert, “Believe I.N. Better,” last semester, Levitan said. On Sept. 29, the Order of Omega will host “A Night for Ingrid” dinner in conjunction with Alpha Delta Phi and Sigma Chi to continue fundraising efforts.