Still racing for the cure | AspenTimes.com

Still racing for the cure

Last weekend, I hardly was to the start of the Race for the Cure when the first runner crossed the finish line — and it's not because I overslept or am just that slow of a runner (though either excuse is entirely plausible).

Rather, there were just that many people packing the streets of downtown Denver for the annual race that raises funds for breast cancer grants and research. The official word is that some 23,000 Coloradans participated in the event. From my vantage point — smack-dab in the middle of the walking pack — it felt like the entire state was there. And everyone was wearing pink in some fashion.

In years past, I have completed the Race for the Cure right here in Aspen; as I sit at my desk writing this, pink "I Race In" signs celebrating and remembering my dear friend and Aspen Times publisher Gunilla Asher hang in plain view. Last Sunday, thousands of those signs were pinned to the backs of runners, joggers, walkers and others as they did their small part in the fight against this horrible disease.

When I learned that there would not be a Race for the Cure in Aspen this summer, I figured my days of participating in this event were done. It sort of broke my heart, as I feel like breast cancer has deeply affected my world over the past few years. So when I found out it was being staged in Denver over a weekend I already was set to be in the Mile High City, I jumped in. I was not alone — Debbie DeMeulenaere, lead mammography technician at Aspen Valley Hospital, was there. And she brought pink for everyone in our posse … tutus, hair dye, boob scarves and more. (What's a boob scarf, you ask? Google images for "neck knockers" and you'll get the picture.)

Sure, walking with tens of thousands of others at first seemed a bit more impersonal than our hometown Race for the Cure. And yes, I did miss seeing survivors I know celebrating at the finish. But the sentiment was the same — people of all ages, genders, races and more joining together in a 3.1-mile race whose true distance cannot be measured in a timed finish or a number of steps.

Komen Colorado reports that with funds raised from the race last year and other fundraising initiatives, the organization awarded more than $1.7 million in grants to 22 Colorado counties — including Pitkin County. That's no small feat. This year, those still who want to give to the Race for the Cure can go to http://www.komencolorado.org to donate online until Oct. 23.

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jmcgovern@aspentimes.com

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