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Fit for Families 5K takes off under clear skies

Rain ended just in time last Saturday morning, as hundreds of people set out on the Fit for Families 5K Run/Walk at the Tanger Outlet Center in Tilton. Over the past five years, the outlet centerís Pink Card Program and their annual race have generated $250,000 for cancer-related programs, technology and services at LRGHealthcare. (Donna Rhodes) (click for larger version)
September 28, 2011
TILTON — Mother Nature showed her support for breast cancer initiatives in the Lakes Region last Saturday morning, when the rain cleared just in time for the Tanger Outlet Center's third annual Fit for Families 5K Run/Walk.

This year's 5K took participants from the starting line behind the outlet stores, around the J.Jill complex, up Route 132, and circled Vista Heights before heading back to Tanger Outlets for the finish line.

More than 400 racers had registered prior to race day, and more came out to join the cause that morning.

Tom Clairmont, president and CEO of LRGHealthcare, made opening remarks to the large crowd, thanking the Tanger Outlet Center stores and employees, race day volunteers, the many area sponsors, and all of the participants for their enthusiasm and support.

"Coinciding with Breast Cancer Awareness Month in October, the 5K event and the Pink Card Program have raised $250,000 over the past five years for cancer-related programs, services and technology," he said.

Clairmont had a special thank you for Tanger's general manager, Eric Proulx; assistant manager Heidi Laramie; and the entire staff of the Tanger Outlet Center for their months of planning to make the annual event such a success.

"Please know how grateful we all are, and what an important impact you're having on the community," said Clairmont.

Erin Taylor, a 25-year-old breast cancer survivor and spokesperson for Under Armour Performance Clothing, traveled to New Hampshire from her home in Maryland to talk about her personal experiences as a breast cancer survivor.

Taylor was diagnosed in 2010, and said she found herself in the midst of a battle she thought no woman her age would encounter. She recalled the day her family and friends gathered to help her shave her thinning hair, and the fun they had as they all gathered to show support and lift her spirits. Through chemotherapy, radiation and all the setbacks she met along the way, Taylor said she was determined to get well and regain control of her life. She encouraged others to support breast cancer patients and help them to remain positive.

"You have two choices — thinking up or thinking down. That's why events like this are important. I know I want a long and healthy life," Taylor said.

Among those supporting the cause were employees of Hair Excitement Salon, located in the outlet center. Sporting their "Team Tilton" tee shirts, Paula Gilbert said her mother-in-law is a survivor, and co-workers Naomi Smith and Leah Ryder also had friends diagnosed with the disease, which gave the race an added meaning for the three women.

"We did a Biggest Loser event earlier this year, and hopefully, we're still in good enough shape to complete the course, then go to work," Smith laughed before the start.

Local radio station Mix 94.1 FM broadcast music to boost participants' energy levels; then, after a brief group warm-up, everyone took off for their journey along the 3.1 miles of the course. Some ran, some jogged, some walked, and some even pushed young ones in baby strollers. In the end, they all accomplished their goal of crossing the finish line, where Miss New Hampshire, Regan Hartley, and other volunteers were waiting with bottles of water and medals to hang around their necks.

Forty-four-year-old Jim Boule was the overall race winner for the day, with a time of 18:49, followed by Ryan LaFrance, age 14, and 19-year-old Joe Bohi. For the women, 33-year-old Kelly Fuller crossed first (sixth place overall) with a time of 21:53. Just behind her were Erin Boxer, 36, and 23-year-old Aleaha Gray.

Nine-year-old Payton Crowley of Franklin had a nice surprise when her father Richard and younger brother Tanner presented her with a bouquet of flowers when she crossed the finish line of her first 5K race. Payton ran along with mom Lisa Crowley, and the two said they really enjoyed their first running experience together.

"It was a little hard on the hill," Payton confessed. "Mom inspired me to do this, though."

Lisa, who runs in many half marathons, said she was proud of her daughter, and noted that running in support of breast cancer was a good time for them, as females, to team up for their first 5K run.

"She's a trooper. She's going to be my running partner now," she said.

Support for racers came from people who lined the road with water, or to just cheer them on. Most notably among them were survivors Alyce Jewell of Belmont and Carole Myrick of Laconia. Wearing their bright pink outfits and hats, adorned with all sorts of fun trinkets, the two cheered as finishers arrived back at Tanger Outlet Center. Featured in a previous Faces of the Race profile, the women could not participate this year but, as promised, were there from start to finish to lend their support.

The Snow family, also featured in Faces of the Race had a strong finish, as did the many employees of Belknap Landscape Company who raced to show their company's full support of the cause.

"We at LRGHealthcare are thrilled with the success of today's 5K event. Eric Proulx and the entire Tanger team go above and beyond in planning this event, and even in a tough economic year, they have a way of rallying the community. From business sponsors to 5K participants to volunteers, it really is a great collaboration and it means even more knowing that funds raised today will remain local, benefiting breast cancer programs at LRGHealthcare and spreading awareness throughout the Lakes and Three Rivers regions," said Becky Doherty, LRGHealthcare Annual Fund and Special Events Manager.

Varney Smith
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