A venue change and increase in family-friendly activities is expected to draw more participants than ever for the 14th annual Susan G. Komen Chattanooga Race for the Cure.
All events, including the race, are scheduled for Sunday, Sept. 29.
Instead of hosting the race near UTC’s McKenzie Arena, festival organizers are moving activities to Finley Stadium. The move will allow space for an extensive kids' park with a youth obstacle course and a UTC women’s soccer game, which will have a "pink" theme.
In addition to the timed 5K for runners, participants can walk the length of the race or sign up for the 1-mile fun walk.
"This year is different," said Jeff Clem, a race coordinator with Komen. "The fact the race is at Finley Stadium is a huge stroke of serendipity, logistically."
According to Clem, the course near Finley Stadium will be much easier for racers than the rolling hills near McKenzie Arena.
Founded in 1982, the organization has spent $1.5 million for breast cancer research, education and advocacy. According to their Wikipedia article, Komen has more than 100,000 volunteers and 124 affiliates worldwide.
Susan G. Komen, Peoria Ill., died of breast cancer in 1980. She was 36 years old. Her younger sister, Nancy Goodman Brinker, promised her sister she would fight to end breast cancer and spread knowledge about research and treatment options. She founded the organization in her sister's honor in 1982.
Clem has seen a surge in registrations from last year and expects in excess of 10,000 registrants for the various events. Last year’s race drew 8,500 racers, walkers and volunteers. The event raised $624,000 to support screening, education and treatment support services for various breast health programs in Tennessee and North Georgia counties.
"Seventy-five percent of the money raised stays in the community," Clem said. "I think one of the things people love about Komen is that it’s community-based. The money raised here stays here. You really get to see it put to work."
The other 25 percent will go to National Komen for the Cure Award and Research Grant Program.
Clem hopes everyone in Chattanooga will sign up for the event in some capacity.
"If we can get every human being registered, that’s what we want to do," he said. "With fundraising, a little difference makes a big difference. If everyone would donate $5, we could raise more than $1 million with this race alone."
For many, Komen is about the celebration of recovery or to remember a loved one.
Shenikia Sturnes has attended all 13 Race for the Cure events held in Chattanooga. Her mother, Juliet R. Sturnes, battled breast cancer for 15 years. She died in 2010.
Throughout her mother’s illness and beyond, Sturnes has seen the annual race as a special day.
"I get excited every year—the thought and the hope that with our continued participation we’re hoping for a cure to be found during our lifetime," Sturnes said. "That’s what keep me excited."
Sturnes began by just walking the event, but since her mother’s death, she has been working toward running the 5K.
She plans to run the entire race this year.
Her mother’s cancer was precarious for 15 years. She was in remission three different times throughout, with her cancer returning in 2002, 2007 and 2009.
Sturnes said her team—the Mt. Canaan Walking Eagles—is one of the largest groups.
"We nearly have 200-plus," she said. "We have both men and women and several survivors and family members of those that lost the battle with breast cancer."
Registration for the event has already started. More information about starting a team or donating can be found here.
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