October 15, 2007

Ithaca Breast Cancer Alliance Hosts Great Ithaca Walk, 5K Run

Print More

A bugle call rang throughout the F.R. Newman Arboretum at the Cornell Plantations early Saturday morning, kicking off the Ithaca Breast Cancer Alliance’s 14th annual Great Ithaca Walk and first annual Strength in Numbers 5K run. Hundreds of runners and walkers decked out in pink and red ranged from families to college students to out-of-town visitors, but all shared a tangible enthusiasm for the cause.
“It’s a good opportunity to exercise and do some charity at the same time,” said Stephen Santangelo ’10.
Many participants had relatives or friends who had breast cancer or had survived it, making the event all the more personal.
“I met some women over the summer who had breast cancer,” said Kristin Welch ’10, who expressed her inspiration “just hearing their stories and how tough they were and all they went through.”
Ithaca residents Patty Hollister, Mary Jo Reeves and Jennifer Merilahti were also among them.
“We’re walking for friends of ours who have battled breast cancer and other cancers. One of our friends used IBCA resources when she first got diagnosed for information and help,” said Hollister.
The walkers and runners arrived back to a hot pancake breakfast, along with some important announcements.
“Today, the IBCA becomes the Cancer Resource Center of the Finger Lakes. The model that we are so proud of for the IBCA is now going to be available to all people for any kind of cancer and as far around Tompkins County and our surrounding communities as we can reach,” said Andrew Novakovic, board president of the newly-named CRCFL.
This decision came about largely because of growing numbers of people who needed help and resources for other cancers.
“The vast majority [of those we’ve helped] have been women with breast cancer and their loved ones, and women who have other women’s cancers, but then there’s those numbers of people who call and say, ‘I know you just serve people with breast cancer, but my mother has lung cancer, and I was wondering if you could help me, too,’” said CRCFL Executive Director Shawn Galbreath.
The CRCFL, though it is a uniquely local organization, has often opened doors to those beyond.
“It’s very much a survivor-driven organization where we really help people going through breast cancer, and now other cancers, to help them understand the process and access local resources,” said Associate Director for Educational Services Bob Riter. “Our focus is Tompkins County and the contiguous counties, so we serve a seven-county region, but often people come to us through our website internationally.”
Riter is a breast cancer survivor himself, who first got started with the organization when he needed its information and assistance.
In past years, the Great Ithaca Walk has raised $30,000 to $40,000 and has been CRCFL’s biggest annual fundraiser, according to Riter. This year, the individual who raised the most money was Linda McBride with $985, and the team with the most was Crimson & Cream, consisting mostly of sorority members from the Cornell chapter of Delta Sigma Theta.
Winners of the actual run included Matt Plumb and Fern Beckhorn of Ithaca, the male and female with the best overall times, respectively. Other categories ranged from the traditional age group breakdowns to more unusual ones, like best-dressed and middle of the pack.
The event came about with the help of CRCFL and its many volunteers, as well as its collaborations with other organizations, such as Cornell University, specifically the Cornell Plantations, which provided the arboretum as a backdrop to the event.
“Some of the volunteers on the race committee were people who worked here at the Plantations, and Don Rakow, the director, was very kind to allow us to hold the event here. It’s a great way to connect the community and Cornell. It’s probably the premier place,” said Andri Goncarovs ’82, a Cornell employee and member of the race committee.
Also at the event was a table for Feel Your Boobies, a breast cancer awareness group based in Pennsylvania and founded by Leigh Hurst, a breast cancer survivor. 20 percent of the Feel Your Boobies merchandise sales went to CRCFL.
On the relationship between different breast cancer organizations and the cause in general, Hurst said, “Our [Feel Your Boobies] teams are not only supporting the host organization by contributing financially to their walk, but they are also helping raise awareness about Feel Your Boobies and the importance of breast cancer awareness.”