Almost 350 men, women and children from the Eastern Sierra and beyond gathered last weekend to show their moral and financial support for cancer victims far and wide.
A sea of pink – balloons, streamers, T-shirts, hats – greeted spectators and participants of Eastern Sierra Breast Cancer Alliance’s 10th Annual 5K Walk/10K Fun Run at the Bishop City Park on Saturday.
Donning this year’s specially designed event T-shirt (pink for women, black for men – until organizers ran out of the more masculine color) and energized by a purpose, the assembly of walkers and runners set out from the front of the park at 9 a.m. as part of the annual effort to raise funds for ESBCA, and by extension, those in the Eastern Sierra who are fighting any kind of cancer.
“It was a fantastic event,” said Pat Ramirez, a co-founder of ESBCA and the annual walk/run. “There were many new volunteers and new participants at this event, along with many past participants.”
In addition to walking or running to raise money, participants were there on Saturday to honor loved ones who endured their own battles with cancer – battles either won or lost.
Next to, below or beside their race bibs were cards announcing who it was they were running or walking for; there were many “Moms” and “Grandmas” written down, and more than one read, “Myself.”
The race course took participants through the park, along Spruce Street behind the Kmart/Vons shopping center, east onto Wye Road and then south along the Bishop canal to predetermined turn-around points for the return trip to Bishop City Park, where runners and walkers were greeted by live music and plenty of cheers.
“It was so great, everyone had a fantastic time and was welcomed back to the park by saxophone player Pat Powell,” Ramirez said.
The 5K route was approximately 3.1 miles, offering participants a brisk morning walk, some decent cardio, a leisurely stroll or a warm-up jog, depending on their fitness level.
The 10K, equivalent to 6.2 miles, was for runners only – hardcores, athletes in training and so on.
Along both routes, participants were cheered along and monitored by ESBCA volunteers armed with water, boom boxes blaring inspirational music (think Gloria Gaynor’s “I Will Survive”) and blinding smiles.
These route volunteers were in addition to the dozens of men and women helping to register runners and walkers at the park, staff the bagel-and-coffee-and-OJ table and generally get the event off the ground.
There were also six vendors at the event, offering information on healthcare, healthy lifestyles and health and beauty: Curves, AirWay Medical, NIH Radiology Imaging, Flow Motion Pilates and Arbonne Natural Makeup.
According to Ramirez, support from both volunteers and the community in general was overwhelming this year.
In fact, she said, registration for the 2010 event exceeded past walk/runs by a large margin. Final numbers, she noted, will not be available for a couple weeks, but ESBCA estimates it raised thousands of dollars for local cancer victims (entry fee was $30-35 per person, depending on when they signed up).
The money raised Saturday, which will also include donations above and beyond event entry fees, will go towards helping cancer victims cover any and all expenses they have as a result of their illness – whether it’s to pay household bills that can’t be paid otherwise because of lost income, to cover travel expenses incurred while seeking treatment, or to buy prosthetics or wigs needed after surgery or chemo.
According to ESBCA President Jillene Freis, the financial need among cancer victims is clear in the Eastern Sierra.
She noted recently that the ESBCA Resource Center received nine applicants for financial aid in September alone.