Aspen’s Race for the Cure about more than raising research money |

Aspen’s Race for the Cure about more than raising research money

Elizabeth SeverySpecial to The Aspen Times
Race for the Cure honorary survivor Anne Gurchick, center, chats with Jeanne Roth of Aspen, left, and Patty Achi of Sumner, Wash., on Thursday during the opening ceremony for the 2005 Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure at the Aspen Institute. Paul Conrad/The Aspen Times

Anne Gurchick won’t be running this year’s Race for the Cure. Instead, she’ll be riding in the pace car cheering on the racers.As the event’s honorary breast cancer survivor, Gurchick will be riding alongside honorary race Chairwoman Tina Staley, who works with Aspen’s cancer patient community. Staley was asked to be the honorary chairwoman in recognition of her work with cancer patients at Aspen Valley Hospital.And out on the road will be Barbara Sterling, an oncology nurse at the hospital, running her eighth race in honor of her patients.All three are key participants in the 15th annual Aspen Race for the Cure, because each brings a uniquely personal perspective on the battle against breast cancer. Saturday’s race is expected to draw about 900 runners, making it the town’s second largest road race. Last year the race raised almost $250,000 to fight breast cancer, with 25 percent of the funds donated to the Komen Foundation’s research program and 75 percent going to local causes, including Staley’s Pathfinders for Cancer program. Staley helped found Pathfinders for Cancer in 2002, shortly after her best friend, Jeannie Renchard, died of breast cancer. The program uses both traditional and complementary alternative medicines to help cancer patients at Aspen Valley Hospital deal with the stresses of treatment.

“To be honest, I woke up one day and thought every cancer patient should have an advocate,” Staley said. “No one should have to go through that alone.”Staley works directly with cancer patients, providing support groups encouraging them to take a more holistic approach to treating their disease. She also started the Valley Angels program, which organizes volunteers who help make life easier for cancer patients by doing anything from picking up prescriptions to gardening. “I really believe in treating patients from mind, body and spirit,” Staley said. “Our goal is that every cancer patient has the best treatment.”The Race for the Cure has a strong role in healing, Staley said, because it provides a network of support for patients and survivors. Barbara Sterling at AVH is part of nearly every cancer patient’s network. As one of two oncology nurses, Sterling helps most patients in the valley with chemotherapy, and running the Race for the Cure is one more way of encouraging them.”I feel like it’s showing my support of their efforts with chemotherapy,” Sterling said.Sterling writes the names of her breast cancer patients on her race bib, and she said running is a way of acknowledging the efforts and trials of all cancer patients.”I try to put everybody’s name on my number – I’ll put everybody I can think of that has had breast cancer,” she said.

Sterling was the one who nominated Gurchick for the position of the honorary breast cancer survivor.”Anne so well represents how well you can go into treatment,” Sterling said. “She’s very positive and she’s very open about it.”Gurchick said she is not going to run the race this year because she just finished treatment three weeks ago. Instead, several friends of hers will run with her in mind while she watches and cheers from the pace car.”One friend in particular said she was going to be my legs and run for me,” Gurchick said.Gurchick was diagnosed with breast cancer in November 2004 and now believes that she is cancer-free. Through surgery and several months of radiation treatment, Gurchick maintained a positive attitude and now wants to help spread the word of the Race for the Cure. “I absolutely plan on being involved in all events in the future,” she said. The Komen Foundation played an integral role in her healing, she said, and she wants to help sustain their research efforts as well as their programs for patients undergoing treatments.”The support they offer through the Komen Foundation to breast cancer patients like me is incredible,” she said. “The emotional support is just imperative.”

Schedule of EventsSATURDAY7:30 to 11 a.m. Silent auction, open to everyone8:15 a.m. Warm up with Aspen Club & Spa fitness instructors8:30 a.m. 15th annual Komen Aspen Race for the Cure the 5K run/fitness walk begins and ends at Rio Grande Park in Aspen. Preregistration costs $30 in advance or $40 the morning of the race9:30 a.m. Second annual Komen Aspen Dog Walk for the Cure a one-mile stroll along the Rio Grande Trail. Preregistration costs $30 for one dog or $40 for two – add $10 for morning-of registrations.10 a.m.One-mile family walk. Preregistration costs $25 for ages 12-17 (youths 12 and under are free) or $35 the morning of the event.10:30 a.m. Komen Kids 100 yard Dash Fun Run11:15 a.m. Awards ceremony, prize drawing

SUNDAY9:30 a.m. Komen Aspen Bicycle for the Cure a ride from Aspen Highlands Village to the Maroon Bells. Preregistration costs $35 ($45 the morning of). Helmets are required.Check out or call the hotline at 920-0250 for more information

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