Despite the Rain, Thousands Participate in 2011 Susan G. Komen North Jersey Race for the Cure
Sunday, May 15, 2011 • 6:41pm
WEST ORANGE, NJ - Raindrops kept falling on their heads but that didn’t stop thousands of women, men, and children from participating in the 2011 Susan G. Komen North Jersey Race for the Cure in the Essex County South Mountain Recreation Complex in West Orange. This was the fourth annual Race for the Cure held by the North Jersey Affiliate and the first one held in West Orange. As of Saturday, 7,361 individuals, including 559 breast cancer survivors, had registered for the event, which included a 5K timed run, expos showcasing grantees and sponsors, the survivorship ceremony, a fun walk, celebrities, and entertainment. Volunteers were on hand distributing tee shirts and refreshments, registering participants, and cheering on the crowds. Among the volunteers were the sisters of the Zeta Tau Alpha sorority who nationwide provide annually 50,000 hours of volunteering to Komen events.
The Race for the Cure is the signature event for Komen North Jersey. Last year, the race raised a net amount of $1.4 million. As of Saturday, 363 teams had registered. Among the top team fundraisers were Essex County employees, Westfield High School, Team Eileen, and Team UMDNJ. A special tent was designated the “Pink Honor Roll” and welcomed the top 100 fund raisers for the race last year as well as teams and individuals who raised more than $1500 towards this year’s race. The tent was sponsored by food, a restaurant in downtown Summit.
The Garden of Hope offered participants a way to honor and remember loved ones or friends who have been touched by breast cancer with specially-designed tulips which could be inscribed with individual messages. The Garden was dedicated to four women who did not survive the disease. Those women are Claudia Luecke, Jennifer Goncalves, Rosanna Avarseli, and Sister Eileen Bradshaw, S.C. Their pictures put faces on the victims of this disease: young women, old women, and even a nun.
The Race honored breast cancer survivors as the “stars of Komen North Jersey Race for the Cure and an inspiration to all.” The Survivors’ Tent was captained by Denise Osborne and Edie Liebman, both breast cancer survivors. Their well-attended tent provided to all survivors a continental breakfast, special refreshments, make-up by Niemen Marcus, and a warm and friendly site to celebrate survivorship. Women newly diagnosed and in treatment were there with pink bandanas covering bald heads as well as women who had faced breast cancer thirty years ago. Ninety-year-old Hatcher Micone, a long-time Komen volunteer and Summit resident, was diagnosed twenty nine years ago and is still going strong. Among the many survivors was Marc Futterweit, a three-year breast cancer survivor. Hundreds of women in their pink tee shirts joined on stage to sing and cherish their bonds of battling and surviving and to remember those who passed away from the disease.
Maureen Glennon, a one-year survivor, and a professional dancer from Motion Dance Theater led the crowd in dancing. The Infernos, long-time Komen supporters and known as America’s Number One Show Band, provided the musical entertainment. The event was emceed by Tommy Cetnar, the owner of the Newark Bears. Jack Ford, journalist, long-time friend of Komen, and New Jersey native, addressed the crowd and commended the survivors as heroes. Referring to the large gathering and embracing the concept of strength in numbers, he quoted an old proverb: “sticks in a bundle can’t be broken.”
The Honorary Chair and Survivor Ambassador was Hoda Kotb, Today Show host, who is a four-year breast cancer survivor. She told the group that she never before received so many hugs as when she announced her diagnosis and shared three lessons she has learned as a result of her experiences: hold on tight to things you love and let go of those that upset you; if you survive, nothing can scare you; and the way you live your days is the way you live your life. She believes that having and surviving breast cancer gave her the strength to ask for what she might have before been afraid to. This led her to ask the powers-that-be at NBC for the opportunity to host the Today Show with Kathie Lee Gifford.
National sponsors for the race were Yoplait, New Balance, American Airlines, ReMax, Bank of America, Ford, SELF, Zeta Tau Alpha, Quilted Northern, and Hanes. Local sponsors for the Race were Shop Rite, Eisai, Comcast, Conti, Carol G. Simon Cancer Center, New Jersey Transit, Novartis Oncology, PNC, Saint Barnabas, New Jersey Monthly, Park Place Magazine, the Star Ledger, Fox5, MY9, Catalent, Westfield Imaging Center, Bard, Dunkin Donuts, Gibbons, OritanBank, Horizon, County of Essex, food, the Infernos, and Westy Self Storage and 120 Jacobson. Gifts from Tiffany & Co. were awarded to the winners of the 5K race. The first place female winner was Erin Brady at 20 minutes and 49 seconds; first place male winner was Steven Morgan at 17 minutes and 24 seconds; and first place survivor winner was Janet Paterson at 20 minutes and 57 seconds. Sponsor New Balance named breast cancer survivor Penny Kaye its new ambassador. Ms. Kaye works in the Millburn High School Guidance Department, is coach of the girls’ varsity lacrosse team, and has assembled a team of Millburn students called Penny’s Pacers. In the fall, the team raised $8,000 for Komen North Jersey and for the Race the team raised in excess of $3,000.
Seventy-five percent of net funds raised by the Race stays within the nine-county northern New Jersey area to support life-saving programs for uninsured and underinsured women affected by breast cancer. This year, Komen North Jersey is funding thirty-one grants. The remaining twenty-five percent of net funds raised by the Race is directed to Komen National and is used for research to find a cure for breast cancer.
Michelle Roth was the Race Project Manager and is on staff at Komen North Jersey. Volunteer co-chairs were Lisa Renwick of West Orange and Robin Ventura of Berkeley Heights. Lisa Gallipoli, Executive Director of Komen North Jersey, expressed that the tenacity and perseverance of all who participated to make the Race a success were unparalleled. Toni Rzepka Meehan, assistant to Volunteer Development Manager Colleen Miller, wrapped up the day by stating that “nothing, not rain, lightning, nor thunder stops us from doing this amazing event.”