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Faces of the Race: A celebration of survival



FACES
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Christine Dzujna of Franklin will be one of the many cancer survivors who will take part in the Fourth Annual Fit for a Cure 5K Run/Walk at Tanger Outlets in Tilton on Sept. 30. (Courtesy Photo) (click for larger version)
September 19, 2012
FRANKLIN — This December, Christine Dzujna of Franklin will celebrate her 12th year as a breast cancer survivor, but her gratitude is something she celebrates every day, and on Sept. 30, she will once again proudly participate in the Fourth Annual Fit for a Cure 5K Run/Walk at Tanger Outlets in Tilton to support others who wage the same battle against cancer that she has won.

Money from the event helps with LRGHealthcare's breast cancer awareness and early detection initiatives. Proceeds from Tanger's past 5K events have supported the purchase and upgrades of digital mammography technology and have helped to fund screening programs, which offer reduced-rate cancer screenings to those local residents who qualify and may otherwise not be able to afford it.

That local connection is important to Dzujna, and she said many families are afflicted with all forms of the disease right here in the Lakes Region who could use the support and technology LRGHealthcare provides for its patients.

"There's a lot of cancer in my family besides me. My sister is a survivor, and we lost a brother to cancer two years ago," Dzujna said, "But I do this to support the hospital and all they do to help people here in the Lakes Region."

When Dzujna received her diagnosis, she was living in Connecticut, and was treated at a local hospital, which she felt gave her the very best care available. She said she then began helping to support the healthcare facility, right up until she and her husband George moved to New Hampshire.

"My mission when I moved here was to connect with a local hospital right away," she said.

She discovered the LRGHealthcare organization, becoming very involved at Franklin Regional Hospital in particular, where, besides receiving healthcare, she started serving as a volunteer and is now president of the FRH Auxiliary.

"We have eight members on the auxiliary board, including some nurses. I really love it there. It's just so personable and everyone at FRH (and the entire LRGHealthcare organization) has been wonderful," said Dzujna.

Since the Fit for a Cure 5K at Tanger Outlets began, she and her husband George have participated every year but one, when some health issues forced her to take a break.

Dzujna said she struggled for awhile to stick with her fitness plan and would have to remind herself that walking was good for her health as her husband supported and encouraged her along the way.

"George came in third in his age group last year," Dzujna said. "He walked, jogged and even did some of it backwards just for fun, but this year, he's going to take it seriously and hopefully take first prize for his group."

The couple walk together regularly, so the 3.2 miles does not intimidate them in the least, as shown by George's "fun" run last year.

Dzujna said she also looks forward to the Tanger 5K for the camaraderie and the scenery along the way.

"It really is a pretty walk," she said. "I can't wait to get out there again."

Dzujna is now trying to recruit her fellow auxiliary board members, and anyone else up for the challenge, to join both she and her husband for the fund raising trek through Tilton.

"I'd love to form a team and get tee shirts and all of that for this year's walk," she said.

The course is not a difficult one, and is run and walked by people of all ages. After some fun warm-up time, participants leave from the back lot of the Tanger Outlet Center on Route 3 in Tilton, wrap around the spacious lawns of the J.Jill Outlet Center, head up Route 132 towards Sanbornton, follow a loop around the peaceful neighborhood of Vista Heights, then turn back down Route 132 to Tanger for the finish line. It is a timed and sanctioned race.

Pre-registration is currently underway until midnight on Sept. 27, and the first 500 participants will receive a special race tee shirt. To pre-register, people can stop by Shopper Services at the Tanger Outlets on Route 3 in Tilton or go to www.tangeroutlet.com/race.

The cost to register is $20 for adults, $15 for children 12 and under, or $25 per person for same day registration. Everyone who joins the walk/run will receive a commemorative race medal along with special offers from the many stores at Tanger Outlet Center.

Warm-up activities begin at 8 a.m. on Sunday, Sept. 30, and the race will begin at 8:30 a.m., followed by an awards ceremony for the top finishers. Families, businesses, groups and individuals of all ages are encouraged to participate and come out to show their support.

Dzujna said she had hoped a cure for cancer would have been found by now, but since it hasn't, everyone should get onboard for the walk and support all who are fighting to overcome the disease. With the current state of the economy, she feels it is now even more vital than ever to help people afflicted with cancer.

"This year's the perfect year to get out there and support people who need our help," said Dzujna. "The money stays local to help our friends and neighbors. It's just a great cause."

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