FRESNO – The Fresno State campus was awash in the color pink Saturday morning as roughly 4,800 runners and walkers, up from 4,300 last year, banded together to support the Susan G. Komen Central Valley affiliate in its annual Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure, an event that aids the non-profit in its fight against breast cancer.
Pink shirts and accessories worn by breast cancer survivors were everywhere, and the crowds participated in different levels of walks and runs designed to accommodate participants of all ages. The event involved guests that included Fresno County Supervisor Henry Perea, Fresno County Sheriff Margaret Mims, Congressman Jim Costa, and event MC Stefani Booroojian.
“I cannot thank you enough for your support,” Johnson said during the ceremony following the morning’s races. “This year, everybody has stepped up, I couldn’t be more proud of our survivors and participants. One person at a time, we are winning the battle against breast cancer.”
To help commemorate 15 years of the race, Susan G. Komen Central Valley honored what it has called “15 Faces for 15 Races,” some of the most recognizable and influential people from throughout the race’s history. One of the 15 Faces was Susan G. Komen Central Valley Race for the Cure’s founder, Carolyn Jorgensen, who passed away after her battle with breast cancer in 2007. It was because of Jorgensen that the first race, with 800 participants, was held at Fresno’s Woodward Park in 1999.
“Every year when I come out here it’s extremely emotional for me because this is Carolyn’s dream,” said her husband, Norman Jorgensen, another “15 Faces for 15 Races” honoree. “Every race day it was like Christmas for a little child, she was so happy and excited.”
Bren Flowers of Fresno, another of the 15 recipients, is currently experiencing her second bout with breast cancer. Despite going through draining chemotherapy and radiation treatments, she still made it out to the Race for the Cure.
“On a personal level, Sharon Johnson has been amazing,” Flowers said. “Not a week goes by that she doesn’t check in with me. I’m one of thousands of patients in the Valley, but she checks in, lets me know that she’s thinking about me, always offers to help with anything I could possibly need.”
Johnson credited the work of Susan G. Komen Central Valley’s many volunteers for making Race for the Cure a success year after year.
“Volunteers from all walks of life contact Susan G. Komen Central Valley every year because they want to give back, including board members, the race committee and the general public,” Johnson said. “They all did a spectacular job.”
At the time of this release, donations and participant fees from the race are still being counted. Race donations are being accepted up to Dec. 31, 2013. 75% of the money raised from the event will benefit community programs that focus on breast health education and treatment in Fresno County, along with breast cancer research. 25% of the proceeds are used for national breast cancer research.
Some of the ways Susan G. Komen Central Valley aids the community include offering free mammograms, lymphedema treatments, financial assistance to breast cancer survivors, culturally diverse education programs, and diagnostic studies.