Runners and walkers take off at the Tanger 5K. (Erin Plummer) (click for larger version)
September 25, 2013TILTON ⎯ People of all ages from many communities came together on Sunday morning for one cause: the fight against breast cancer. Nearly 900 participants took part in the Tanger Outlet's fifth annual Fit for a Cure 5K Run/Walk.
The parking lot of the Tanger Outlet was a sea of pink as runners and walkers gathered for the event benefiting LRGHealthcare's oncology program and breast cancer initiatives.
Eric Proulx, General Manager of the Tanger Outlets of Tilton, said around 850 people pre-registered to be part of the event, and around 30 to 40 registered the day of.
The proceeds of from the race will go to LRGHealthcare's breast cancer initiative, specifically to digital mammography services.
The course started in the back parking lot of the Tilton Outlets, went around the J. Jill property, up Route 132, and around the loop at Vista Heights, where it went back the same direction.
While numbers were a little shy of the 1,000-person goal, Proulx said he was extremely happy with the turnout.
"This is our fifth year, and it has grown every year since," Proulx said.
LRGHealthcare President Tom Clairmont thanked all the participants, sponsors, and volunteers for their efforts.
"This walk and run is about hope, and most of curing cancer is surrounded by hope," Clairmont said.
Clairmont said this fundraiser has raised more than $400,000 for cancer services at LRGHealthcare.
"I think it's important for you to know how far the funds you raise for this event go, and how far the funds go for cancer patients," said Suzanne Stiles, Chair of Human Resources and Senior Vice President/Administrative & Support Services at LRGHealthcare.
Pamela Ryan of Danbury shared her story of fighting breast cancer. She said she gets regular mammograms and exams, though noticed a crease she found suspicious. The results of one mammogram came back clear, though she noticed the crease was more pronounced several months later. After more testing, a small tumor was detected this past spring.
She met with different doctors from LRGHealthcare who helped her make treatment decisions she said she felt were best for her. She will be taking part in a trial treatment offered by Dana Farber Cancer Institute of Boston and available right through LRGH. She said if she received this treatment in Boston it could take months to receive. Instead she will soon begin on her three cycles of treatment at LRGH and will be part of a five-year study.
Ryan said a gift the Tanger Outlets donated a few years back helped the hospital revamp its oncology suite. She said she never would have dreamed these services would be available right at LRGH.
Overall, Ryan encouraged people to be advocates for their own health.
"If something doesn't feel right, there's a good chance it isn't," Ryan said. "You are your own best advocate."
The overall first place finisher of this year's 5K was Ryan LaFrance of Gilford. LaFrance is a sophomore at Gilford High School, and runs cross-country. Last year, he came in second in the Tanger 5K.
LaFrance said there were parts of the course that were difficult.
"The hill is always really hard; it always gets me," LaFrance said.
He said he thought someone was ahead of him around the hill part, then he went downhill and realized he was out in front. Overall, he said he enjoyed taking part in the race.
"It's local, and it's just a fun event," LaFrance said.
The overall second place finisher was Michael Roy of Northfield, a senior at Winnisquam Regional High School. This was Roy's second year in the race.
"It's for a good cause, and I just like doing road races," Roy said.
Roy said the course was tough and while he said he did not get the time he wanted, he was overall happy with how he placed.
A number of teams came out for the event in support of the cause.
Athletes from Winnisquam Regional and Belmont High Schools made a strong showing in support of Coach Amy Dutton, who has battled the disease for two years.
Members of the Gilford High School field hockey team came out to the run for the first time. Team co-captain Mollie Dignan said the team came out in support of the cause and also to do an activity as a team.
"We were going to come rain or shine because we support breast cancer (efforts), it can happen to anyone," Dignan
Dignan said this activity was an overall community effort and as well as making a good name for the team.
Co-captain Rachel Blandford said the effort was a way of supporting their fellow women.
The members of the Tinker Team were family members based in the Tilton-Northfield area with many coming from farther places. The family has taken part for two years.
"Two years ago, I lost 155 pounds; this is new to me," said Deb Shepard of Tilton.
The race has been encouragement for getting her out and more active. She said she also knows people in the community touched by cancer.
"Everybody knows someone who has had it or is battling it, or has lost someone to it," Shepard said.
Team members range from occasional runners to serious competitors. Adam Tinker was visiting from New York City, he has run in the Vermont City Marathon four times and in this year's Tanger 5K and took tops in his age division.
Shepard said the family plans to make this an annual event.
For the second year, members of the Allar family and family friends gathered for the race in support of Robin Allar, a breast cancer survivor. Robin's husband David, her children, and other family members and friends, joined her in the race; all wearing t-shirts in support of her battle.
Team members said the race went well this year with perfect conditions. Megan Leahey of Concord said this event was a strong support system for people with cancer.
"It's the least that we can do," said Heather Allar of Northfield. "They fight for their lives; the least we can do is run a race."
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