To get a sense of how the race went, first you should find a quiet spot and watch the Event Video.
Says it all, right? You would think so, but our Track Commanders have provided their individual recaps below and you really need to read them all to get the full experience ‘from the ground’. Stick around to the very end, where we inserted a PARTING SHOT from our own Wexler. Not gonna spoil it for you.
Just read it
Dawn Rippy-Brunton (SILVER) –
Dawn was diagnosed in July then major surgery in August then chemo and radiation since. She rallied from not being sure she would be able to ride days before due to side effects to being there and enjoying her experience!
I think Dawn summed up her day in her comment in the video:
“Cancer may be bigger than me,
But my God is bigger than cancer.”
What I also remember about the day was when Dawn was talking about her dream of retiring in Hawaii and opening a restaurant. Big Hopes & Big Dreams, for someone who was modest about her fight. Just her being there yesterday was a big challenge which was not going to stop her from showing her thanks to Molly for the kindness she had for Dawn. It was a great moment to see her on stage with Molly telling her story at the end!
Honored to serve,
Carrier and Orlando
Catherine Gomes (RED) –
I spoke with Catherine over the phone the day before the race and from that conversation I knew it would be a special day for her. Her doctors finally removed all the cancer recently, but she still has to continue with the chemotherapy. Due to all the treatments, she hadn’t been out the house in a year.
I picked her up from her car in the chariot before the race and from that moment she was ready to GO. During the run she gave us so much strength to push on saying, ”Don’t worry about me, I’m not fragile. Let’s GO!” All that joy and strength from her, I have no words for it.
Shake N Bake
Lynn Marie Longo (BLACK) –
Lynn Marie Longo is battling Stage 4 breast cancer. She is an amazing woman who has been through a lot these past couple of years along with her husband, Dean. Through all of the ups and downs, she has steadfastly held onto her faith in Jesus Christ. It’s awesome to see how God uses Lynn Marie and Dean to help others grow in their faith.
Cindy Adkins (ORANGE) –
Cindy Adkins is an amazingly strong woman. She battled cancer 14 years ago, but it has now returned, and she is currently undergoing chemotherapy treatments. Cindy is not deterred though, and is facing this new challenge with a determination and spirit that greatly inspired McBeast and myself. She had a large contingent of family and friends there for support, and we felt the love these folks had for Cindy, and she for them.
Cindy and her friends are runners, and we all shared many racing stories as we made our way along the jam-packed route. Before we knew it, we had completed the 5K loop and had arrived at the finish line. The most memorable moment of the morning came then when Cindy got out of the chair and walked hand-in-hand with her friends across the finish line to the loud cheers of the crowd. The phrase “Who Pushes Who” printed on our pink SpeedForNeed T-shirts could not be more appropriate. McBeast and I will forever remember the small part we played in enabling Cindy to participate in this marvelous event.
Jacqueline Leaf (YELLOW) –
YHC had Team Jackie in “The Smoker” YELLOW chair. Supported by her daughter, brother and sister, this was Jackie’s 1st 5K she has ever been able to participate in. Eight months cancer free, the spirit of Jackie was contagious as she encouraged her family and me to keep moving forward.
Diane Scharin (GREEN) –
Doc McStuffins & I were honored to assist Diane Scharin in this year’s Race for the Cure. Diane was recently diagnosed with cancer and is currently undergoing treatment. Joining her this morning were her daughter and her daughter’s friend. They provided a lot of encouragement to her before we got started and during the event. They joked several times with Doc & I that we should take off & go as fast as we can. That she would be fine & absolutely love it. With the crowds being heavy at the start this wasn’t possible, but later in the event we did pick up the pace a bit. Diane was able to meet several other ladies over the course of the morning who shared their experiences and gave her a lot of encouragement. One of the riders from last year emphatically told her “I rode in the chair last year and I’m walking the whole thing this year – you & me will walk it together next year!” Incredibly inspirational.
As we approached the finish line, Diane walked the last 50 yards or so with other track commanders & her daughter. She had a big smile on her face as the crowds yelled their support. After crossing the finish line, Diane participated in the Survivors Parade and watched the events conclude from the main stage. Again, Doc & I were honored to be a part of the day and have the opportunity to meet Diane and help her enjoy the event.
Beth Lawing (BLUE) –
Beth was recently diagnosed with breast cancer just before school started this year. In fact, Saturday marked the completion of her first week of radiation treatments, so she’s still in the early stages of her battle. Beth is strong and very optimistic. She could’ve most likely pushed me over the entire 5k at this point, but we convinced her to enjoy the ride and scenery. The enthusiasm, positive energy, and support throughout the race was very uplifting and impressed all of us in Beth’s corner. We made some friends along the way and shared our stories with them and they shared theirs with us.
It was a blessing and honor to be part of something so meaningful to people who need it most. It was like a shot of adrenaline and you could see it in both Beth’s and her husband’s faces and demeanor as the miles added up.
Jenny Klamforth (PINK) –
Jenny Klamforth has Stage 4 Breast Cancer. She was first diagnosed in 2014, fought like crazy, and was declared Cancer free by the end of 2017. During an unrelated back surgery, they found the Cancer had returned with a vengeance spreading to her skull, spine, and breaking her pelvis bone leading them to put a metal rod in her femur to secure it.
Jenny is the breadwinner of the family and has had to continue to work through all her treatment to support them. While we were in the race, Jenny kept asking us to stop to wait for her friends and family. Even with her difficulties, Jenny was always the mom being more worried about her family than herself.
PARTING SHOT FROM WEXLER –
I just wanted to thank you all for letting me be a part of this. Words can never truly justify what it meant to me or just how much I was affected by it. When Exit 54 first approached me about the race in February and pushing my mom, she was battling her own Stage 4 Breast Cancer. I showed her the video from last year and she was so excited and couldn’t wait to get in a Chariot. She couldn’t believe she could have that opportunity after not being able to walk the previous seven months and was just so grateful. She kept asking me to thank everyone involved and make sure they know what it means to her.
My mom had been diagnosed in 2014 with Appendicular, Colon, and a small dot of Stage 1 Breast Cancer. She fought like hell and beat it and was declared Cancer free in Feb of 2017. Her leg started hurting her in August of 2017 and an MRI showed her Cancer had returned to her bones as Stage 4 and broke her Femur Bone. She had a metal rod inserted in her leg to stabilize it and started back up on Chemo. Her new scans showed that her cancer spread to her skull and her spine. The first chemo drug she was on didn’t touch the Cancer but made her very sick. She was hospitalized in December 2017 with double pneumonia and blood clots. She fought and beat that too.
The new Chemo she was placed on was great and she started returning to her old self. Her hair started growing back and she was infused with a new sense of hope. In March of 2018, her leg pain became unbearable and a new scan showed the metal rod in her leg had broken. My mom had additional surgery to replace that rod and she was put in a special Cancer rehab that she worked her butt off in. After 3 weeks, she was very excited to get out and be back home. Unfortunately, she had contracted a rare form of pneumonia in the rehab center. We raced her to the hospital the night before Easter and within 36 hours she was gone. As shocking as it was, I take great pride in the fact that Cancer wasn’t what ultimately beat her.
When I first met Jenny, she spread her arms out wide and said ‘I’m a hugger’ and wrapped me in a big hug. My mom always met people by declaring she was a ‘hugger’ and hugged everyone she met including me every time she said hi or bye to me. Jenny and my mom’s diagnosis and stories were almost identical. This week Jenny’s son had to go to the school counselor because he was so upset Jenny would get hurt during the race. Jenny just kept telling me how she knew she would be fine and that she was more worried about him. I felt that was exactly how my mom would feel and probably feels about me right now.
Before the race, I had written my mom’s name in one of those pink squares that say ‘I am Celebrating Pat Glennon’ today. I had it pinned on my back but I never really thought it would stay on for the race but I figured I could at least start with it. It stayed on all day and right at the end of the race I heard a voice behind me say ‘Pat Glennon? I know Pat Glennon, how do you?” I told the woman I was her son and asked how she knew her. Apparently she was my mom’s grief counselor after my dad passed and they had stayed in touch and became good friends. She told me how much she loved my mom and how all my mom talked about were her kids, how proud she was of them, and how much she loved them. She then went on to say ‘to be fair though, her favorite topic was her grandchildren and how much joy they brought to her life.’
I was in a state of shock but the woman hugged me, gave me the biggest smile and continued on. Jenny turned to me and said ‘you do know that that was your mom saying hi, letting you know she is with us today and that she is ok, right?’ I just smiled as I knew she was right and I wasn’t really able to say or do anything else in that moment.
After the race, I was frustrated that I had not asked the woman’s name or remembered it if she had told me. I wanted to reach out to her and thank her and let her know how much it meant to me that we randomly ran into each other like that. I just watched your video Tolkien and there, smiling in it and being interviewed, was the woman, Amy Thomas. I pointed it out to my wife who said, Amy Thomas? I actually have the phone number for a Grief Counselor named Amy Thomas. Apparently our church had recommended Amy to my wife if I any of us ever wanted to speak to a grief counselor.
My family calls ‘coincidences’ like that God Winks. Just small (or in this case pretty big) things that let you know there is a higher power out there and those who have passed on are doing great and are still with us.
My apologies for oversharing but I am still processing everything from yesterday as it was such a powerful and moving experience for me. I will also be giving Amy a call tomorrow to thank her. Thank you all for letting me be a part of it! And per my Mom’s instructions back in Feb, thank you for letting her be a part of it as well! It truly meant a lot to her!
See you in the Gloom,
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