We are so grateful to the sponsors, participants, team captains, donors and volunteers that made Race for the Place 2014 such a big success. Over 4,600 runners and walkers joined us at Beachwood Place this year and helped to raise over $332,000 to support our free programs and services for individuals and families touched by cancer.
We’d like to share some of the wonderful stories behind Race for the Place. People who are running a 5K for the first time. Runners who thought they wouldn’t be able to run again after the cancer diagnosis and learning they could; companies who start a couch to 5K program and get people up and moving.
I Run Therefore I am a Runner
We met Leah Shea at Medical Mutual when we learned about the ‘Couch to 5K’ program she created for employees. Leah is the program manager for MedFit, the company that manages the wellness center for Medical Mutual. Leah has facilitated a running club at Medical Mutual for the last six years but wanted to do something different to reach a wider audience. She decided to launch a ‘couch to 5K’ program for beginners and those that have never run before. Since Medical Mutual was one of the lead sponsors for this year’s Race for the Place she decided to use it as the 5K goal to work towards.
The group started training in March and ran three times a week in good and bad weather. On the day we went to visit back in May, just as the ladies were starting out for their run, the skies opened up and the rain came down. They headed out anyway and came back 30 minutes later looking invigorated. Some of the women who participated in this program were lapsed runners while others had never run before. They all expressed receiving a great physical benefit from the program but the added benefit they noted was being able to build relationships among colleagues. A favorite quote of the group is ‘No matter how slow you run, you’ve already lapped everyone on the couch’. What’s next for these ladies? Leah is encouraging them to move on to become ‘Road Warriors’, an advanced running club for employees at Medical Mutual.
Learning more about the ‘couch to 5K’ at Medical Mutual led us to meet Alycia Thomas, second to last on the right in the photo above, who is a twenty year cancer survivor. Alycia was diagnosed with Hodgkins Lymphoma in her early 20s. Race for the Place was her first time participating in any type of race. We thought it only fitting that she should be a part of our cancer survivor ceremony and hold up the sign representing survivors of twenty years and more.
She Did It!!
We first met Linda Sabovik when she came to The Gathering Place in Beachwood four years ago to drop off monetary donations she had collected through her salon Snip, Clip and Polish in Chesterland. When we met Linda in 2010, she was 200 pounds heavier than she is today. Linda walked the 5K at Race for the Place with much difficulty in 2010. Even though Linda trained, she struggled to finish the walk. She started Weight Watchers and participated in Race for the Place each year and the walking got easier.
On January 2, 2014, Linda hit her goal of losing 200 pounds. Linda had been toying with the idea of running the 5K and asked her doctor, who is also a runner, if he thought it would be okay. He said, “Oh yes, you lost 200 pounds by changing your lifestyle, you can run a 5K.” Linda says she trained a little, she didn’t think enough, and got out there and did her best. She ran with two buddies Terry Joyce and Rena Balla who kept pace with her and provided encouragement. She notes that as she came into the home stretch she was beginning to feel tired but a little boy started running beside her. He was talking to Linda’s friend Terry and they learned that he was running because his mother died of breast cancer. “I pushed myself to keep running to the finish line. I finished for his mother. Don’t know his name or his mother’s name but I finished running for them,” says Linda.
See Jane Run
Tara Jane Neiman was an avid runner, but after her diagnosis of stage 3 melanoma 18 months ago her view of running changed. The melanoma moved into the lymph nodes in her legs and caused her to lose feeling there so she became afraid to run. Tara met with our physical therapist Beth Roth who helped Tara realize that she really could run. Tara became convinced and decided to form a team for Race for the Place. Using her middle name Jane she dubbed her team ‘See Jane Run’. Her goal was to have 15 team members and raise $750. Instead Tara’s team had 47 members and raised $3,000. Sometimes when you think you can’t, you really can!!
When we sent out our last email about Race for the Place we shared a photo of three cancer survivors making their way towards the finish line. One of those survivors, Diane Moser, reached out to ask for a copy after seeing herself in the photo . She notes, “Being well and able to run that race meant the world to me and my husband. While we were running, my 16 year old son helped my 74 year old mother on the one mile by walking with her and carrying her chair in case she needed to stop and rest a little. It was a powerfully symbolic day for us.” Diane was diagnosed with cancer in 2011 and received a kidney transplant in 2012. Powerful indeed!