WESTERVILLE, Ohio (WCMH) – One of the country’s largest annual fundraisers for breast cancer research is finding an alternative way to support patients, survivors, and families.
Saturday would have brought close to 20,000 participants and lots of pink to downtown Columbus for the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure. Because of COVID-19 concerns, organizers decided in April to postpone the massive gathering.
“We just needed to be safe and decided to reschedule the race and make sure our patients and our survivors were well taken care of,” explained Komen director of development Alyssa Petrella.
As an alternative to the large event, the Komen Columbus headquarters in Westerville hosted a “Hope Parade.” Several dozen cancer survivors and their families dressed in pink, decorated their vehicles’ and drove through the area with signs and honking horns. In the parking lot, a singer performed a “curbside concert” for the socially distant crowd.
“I really appreciate the opportunity to join fellow survivors and gain that spirit and enthusiasm and encouragement and energy. It’s unbelievable,” said Rebecca Hudson, a 20-year cancer survivor.
Hudson, who also lost her best friend and sister to breast cancer, explained the annual event is an emotional roller coaster each year.
“My heart soars. Every time I start this race, I cry at the beginning of it. I cry when I go through the survivors’ chute. It’s just wonderful,” she said.
Other survivors say it’s emotional knowing the amount of good Komen Columbus does for the community.
“That’s why I wanted to be here to support them, because they supported me,” four-year survivor Elizabethe Murch said.
Her daughter Maddie Murch added, “Everyone’s here for each other. You feel supported knowing that other people went through what you went through.”
Money raised during and outside of the Race for the Cure funds groundbreaking cancer research, treatment and community support for patients and their families. Organizers said they wanted to make sure those people felt supported even though the event couldn’t happen as scheduled.
“So many people are missing the race today,” Petrella said. “But I hope they can find some joy and some celebration by looking back on the years that they’ve been a part of it and remembering that we are going to be together again.”
During a live segment on NBC4 Saturday morning, Komen Columbus announced the Race for the Cure will be rescheduled for August 1st, 2020. Organizers are unsure what the event will look like and if it will be virtual or in-person.
Participants said they’re already looking forward to the rescheduled event and future Races for the Cure.
“I have a team, so I’m getting them together again. We will be there marching and cheering and crying and supporting and all the other stuff,” Hudson said.