By KARI BLURTON
There were plenty of tears, hugs and celebration among a sea of pink, as approximately 1,000 race participants and hundreds of supporters gathered at Hays Municipal Park for the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure Saturday morning.
Luanne Tophoj Jara, Hays, participated in the 5k race.
“This race is very important to me,” pausing as she tried to fight back tears.
“I’m sorry,” she said as the tears began to flow.
“My mother is dying of cancer and today is representing her. I’m not running just for breast cancer but all types of cancer,” Tophoj Jara said, pointing to the words “Mom” written on the back of her leg.
Tophoj Jara said she loves the event brings people of all ages together for a single purpose.
“I am seeing babies and people all the way to age 92. … It shows the heart and soul of what this race is all about, because life is too short to not pass the love around,” she said.
The event provided three different races: the 5k competitive race, the Kids for a Cure race for children 12-and-younger and the Family Fun Walk.
The races were followed by an awards ceremony and Survivor Celebration, during which around 60 breast cancer survivors danced into the ceremony to Gloria Gaynor’s “I Will Survive.”
Pat Schumacher, Hays, cancer-free for 12 years, was among the group. She said the Susan G. Komen event is a celebration of life and one of remembrance.
“Every time I walk or run in these events, it reminds me of how lucky I am to be here when a lot of my friends (who had breast cancer) are not,” said Schumacher.
One man traveled all the way from New Jersey to raise awareness breast cancer can happen to men too.
Mark Goldstein, 81, Randolph N.J., has been free of breast cancer for 26 years.
Goldstein marked his 229th Susan G. Komen race and placed second in his age group in the the 5k.
He travels the nation with a purpose he can sum up in one statement.
“Men should not die from breast cancer out of ignorance,” he said.
Goldstein wore a blue T-shirt with the words, “Male Breast Cancer: Rare but there,” and said men with breast cancer are statistically “few in numbers” noting 232,000 women in America are diagnosed with breast cancer each year, compared to 2,500 men per year.
Goldstein stressed men need to be just as proactive as women, when it comes to monthly self-breast exams.
“It is not just a women’s disease,” he said.
Eagle Communications is a sponsor of the Susan G. Komen Race for Cure event in Hays.
“It is important not only for the men and women affected by breast cancer in our community, but such an important fundraiser for all of western Kansas,” said Gary Shorman, Eagle president and CEO.
Seventy-five percent of the funds raised benefit the 95 counties in Kansas served by the Mid-Kansas Susan G. Komen affiliate. The other 25 percent funds cancer research nationally.
For complete results in Saturday’s race, click HERE.