Thousands turn out for Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure

Thousands turn out for Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure

October 1st, 2012 by Rachel Bunn in Local Regional News

Participants walk in the 13th annual Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure on Sunday on the UTC campus. The race is meant to honor the lives lost to breast cancer, raise money for the battle and celebrate those who have survived the disease.

Photo by Allison Love /Times Free Press.


Information on the Chattanooga area Susan G. Komen Foundation is available at

Quintana Lackey has participated in the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure every year since it began.

Lackey, 47, who lives in Nashville but grew up in Chattanooga, and her family have gathered in Chattanooga for 12 years to honor her mother, Shirley Bowman, who died of breast cancer in 2001. Bowman organized her family to participate in the first walk in 2000.

"This is something she started, and we want to continue it," Lackey said. "I think she's smiling down on us and is happy that we do it every year. I'm hoping that if I'm gone, my nieces will carry it on, too."

The Race for the Cure began in Chattanooga in 2000, according to Sarah Bowen, president of the local chapter of the Susan G. Komen Foundation. The chapter serves 16 counties in the greater Chattanooga area. Komen Chattanooga gives 75 percent of its earnings to local breast health programs such as the MaryEllen Locher Foundation scholarships, a mobile mammogram van and education for organizations such as Girls Inc.

Lackey's best friend, Jo Ellen Martin, 46, also has participated in the race for years. Martin was diagnosed with stomach and colon cancer in July and is halfway through her chemotherapy treatment.

"I think it's important to come show your support for the survivors, the ones who are going through treatment and the ones who we lost," she said. "I always participate, but especially now. Cancer is cancer."

This year, about 6,800 participants and 500 volunteers took part in the race, which had 5K and 1-mile courses. Runners and walkers started and finished at McKenzie Arena at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga.

"I just love this day," Bowen said. "I think it's the one event in the community where you don't have to be athletic or you don't have to be rich to participate. You can really just come out here and you can really feel like you're doing something and making a difference."

On Sunday, teams gathered outside of McKenzie Arena waiting for the race to begin. One team wore pink wigs and tutus; another wore pink baseball hats embroidered with the name of a co-worker they were walking to honor.

As runners and walkers streamed past the finish line, volunteers handed them light pink ribbons. The cancer survivors got dark pink roses.

"You can never have too much pink until there's a cure," Bowen said.

Inside the arena, vendors offered information about breast-self exams, passed out samples and brochures and sold souvenirs like pink tennis shoes. Bowen said many volunteers and vendors participate every year.

Adam Tauzer, 18, was the first timed finisher of Sunday's race. Though he did not know someone with breast cancer, his friend, Michael Nicholas, died of brain cancer in April 2011.

"All of the breast cancer survivors, they've fought through radiation and the treatment," he said. "I thought I could fight through a 5K."

Nancy Reynolds, 57, was one of the first survivors to complete the 1-mile walk.

Reynolds, a 41/2 year survivor, said early detection is important. She urged women to do regular breast self-examinations along with their mammograms. She found her cancer in a self exam three months after her mammogram.

"If I can encourage just one person, I would say don't wait, do the self exam," Reynolds said.

One in eight women will be diagnosed with breast cancer, according to the Komen Foundation.

"I think when they take the [commemorative] picture, it's wonderful to see there's a lot of people who are survivors," she said.