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The Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure® began 29 years ago in Dallas, Texas, with 800 participants. Today, it is recognized as the world’s largest and most successful series of 5K run/fitness walk events designed to raise public awareness of breast cancer.
When Ambassador Nancy G. Brinker, founder and CEO of Susan G. Komen for the Cure®, organized the first Race for the Cure® in 1983 to honor the promise she made to her dying sister, she could not have imagined that the concept would expand to annual Races that attract more than 1.6 million participants in more than 150 locations worldwide.
Thanks to the efforts of Susan G. Komen for the Cure®, the 2.9 million breast cancer survivors in the U.S. represent the largest group of cancer survivors today. Onslow Memorial Hospital and Onslow Radiation Oncology (ORO) were proud to serve as sponsors for the Inaugural Wilmington Race for the Cure®, held Saturday, March 2, in downtown Wilmington. More than 2,400 runners and walkers joined the inaugural event to support breast cancer survivors and honor the lives of those who have passed.
Enthusiastically led by team captain Tracy Sobiesienski, RN, Director of Education, the OMH “Warriors in Pink” registered 81 runners/walkers in the event and raised $2,800 in funds. As Community Outreach Coordinator for the hospital’s Commission on Cancer Committee, Sobiesienski was the catalyst for the hospital’s strong showing in the event. She credits her team members – Sam West, Regina Lanier, Jessica Collins-Hansley, Hollie Seward, and Amy Sousa – and ORO Director Dr. Randy Blackburn, as well as numerous OMH employees, for making the event a wonderful success.
“It was more powerful than I ever would have imagined,” Sobiesienski said. “Seeing the survivors coming across the finish line … couples crossing the finish line together … sisters, friends, and children … and everybody hugging their family members … it was more emotion than I was prepared for.”
The day had started early, with a 4 a.m. wakeup call for Sobiesienski and her team. “We had gotten a grant from the Susan G. Komen Foundation, the ‘Passing the Promise Grant,’ to pay for a limo to take four breast cancer survivors, and a family member for each of them, to the race. We got to the hospital to see them off in style at 5:30 in the morning,” Sobiesienski said.
It was a beautiful morning for the Race, filled with emotion and celebration, said Sobiesienski. “It was my first 5K race ever. I remember at the very end there was a hill that seemed just evil,” Sobiesienski laughed. “But I made it over – we all did.”
It’s an apt metaphor for the fight against cancer, as women, men and families harness the power of banding together to overcome this disease, and together, find a cure.