17 October 2010
WOW – 46,000+ participants in Arkansas' Komen Race for the Cure yesterday. It’s one of the largest Komen Races in the country; some say it’s the third largest. And it felt like it.
Normally I avoid crowds. I haven’t been to Riverfest in years, no more fighting the throngs of folks who gather at the River for the Fourth of July fireworks. I even do a pretty good job of staying away from large shopping centers, instead doing most of my shopping in my own neighborhood or smaller boutique centers. But I am so glad that I put on my walking grear and registered to “race” yesterday (smile!). There was actually no "racing" for me yesterday but I was proud that my legs, still rather weak, allowed me to conquer about a mile and a half. All in all, it felt very good.
I’m not sure what it is about the Komen Race that creates such a rush of energy.
Maybe it’s the 46,000 participants (plus observers) that fill the streets of downtown Little Rock, all there for one purpose – to eradicate breast cancer. We even saw a slew of canoes as we crossed the bridge, the rowers all wearing pink as they paddled down the Arkansas River.
Maybe it’s the sea of pink, more pink in the crowd than the red you’ll find at a Razorback game. Pink shirts, pink wigs and hats, pink eyelashes and boas, pink balloons and even a few pink dogs and fire trucks. It reminds you of a living ribbon of cotton candy – Pink Warriors everywhere. It was touching to see so many people banding together for one cause.
Or maybe it’s the music, wonderful and inspiring rock ‘n roll tunes that give you that feeling of “energize me” or “pump me up.” I just love the loud speakers everywhere downtown, even though my friend Mary Ruth, who lives in a downtown condo, said it certainly makes for an early day for local residents.
Maybe it’s all the funny t-shirts you can find that make you laugh, or at least bring a smile. One crew in the Three Miles of Men walk wore camouflage shirts that said “Save The TaTas.” Another camo shirt sported by women said, “Stop The War on My Rack.” There were others: “Save Second Base.” “Bosom Buddies.” “Big or Small - Save Then All.” “Viva La Cure.” “Fight Like A Girl,” and so many more. Reading all the funny shirts is another reason to be downtown on race day.
I’ve participated in the Komen Race in years past. For two or three years I worked the race to recruit women who would help write letters to legislators to pass the Breast Cancer Act. But that was work, Yesterday was different, and I know why.
For you see, at the Komen Race, survivors wear a different shade of pink shirt than the other participants. And in big bold letters, the shirt reads S-U-R-V-I-V-O-R! As I more closely observed the crowd this year, I was in complete awe of the number of SURVIVORS who were present – thousands of them. I’ve known since February that I’m not alone in this fight, but the large number of survivor shirts made me question the epidemic proportions of this nasty breast cancer. As survivors would pass one another on the street, there was an instant soulful connection made, an emotional bond that did not require words, only a sympathetic smile. It may be the first time we’ve ever seen one another but there was an immediate feeling of empathy. “I may not know you but I know what you’ve been through.” For me, no survivor was a stranger. And for a seven month survivor like myself, they gave me hope, especially those who wrote on their backs how many years they have survived the battle.
Yesterday I was happy to be at the Race with Anna-Lee, Tim, my brother Mike, dear friends Susan and Betsy, and a host of many other friends too (Allyson was in St. Louis but with us in spirit). But I was especially humbled and honored to be at an event with so many women who were celebrating survivorship, or who were honoring loved ones who didn’t win the battle of cancer, but will forever be remembered by those they left behind.
It’s unbelievable what Nancy Brinker has accomplished through one small promise to her sister, Susan Komen. As my friend Cissy points out, during the month of October, the NFL wears pink shoes, the White House glows each night, firefighters dance on their painted pink fire trucks, and hundreds of products donate a part of the profits to Susan G. Komen. It’s unbelievable how far Brinker has taken the breast cancer cause.
Thank you Nancy Brinker, thank you Komen, and thank you to the 46,000+ women, men and children who gathered in downtown Little Rock yesterday morning to continue our fight to kick breast cancer's butt. Woohoo!
Posted by Stacy Sells at 1:42 PM