The Sun Realty parking lot in Avon was awash in a sea of pink on Saturday morning, Oct. 6, as nearly 130 people—sporting all manner of rosy regalia in honor of breast cancer awareness month—gathered for the ninth annual Hatteras Island Cancer Foundation Fun Run.
The race began with a symbolic dove release ceremony. Liz Browning of Hatteras Doves released three baskets of her highly-trained homing pigeons—one basket representing loved ones who lost their battle with cancer, one in support of those who are fighting or have fought the disease and won, and one in appreciation of friends, family members, and medical personnel who give care and support to cancer patients.
As the doves found their way home, participants found their way to the starting line at the entrance to the Kinnakeet Shores subdivision, and soon they were off to the races.
Some fleet-footed participants bolted through the neighborhood, completing the race’s 3.1-mile course in just over 18 minutes. Others took their time, enjoying the perfect fall day by walking the course with friends and family.
Every finisher earned a medal, and once everyone had returned to the Sun Realty parking lot—where they were welcomed by music from Jamie Markley, barbecue from Crazy Johnny’s BBQ, hot dogs from the sixth grade class at Cape Hatteras Secondary School, baked goods from local church organizations, and a bounce house provided by Frisco Mini Golf and Go Karts—Cancer Foundation volunteers and organizers announced the winners of the race and doled out their prizes.
This year, pink-ribboned medals were given to the first, second, and third place finishers in each of four divisions: men, women, boys 18 and under, and girls 18 and under. And, as part of their effort to increase participation in breast cancer awareness month, the foundation gave out two awards for the “most pinked-out” adult and child.
This year’s race saw some stiff competition, some surprise victories, and the emergence of some fresh talent.
Claudia Caldwell, 11, surprised her friends and family — and maybe even herself — by taking first place in the girls 18 and under division.
She had never raced before and hadn’t been running much, but, perhaps inspired by her older sister, Myra—a strong runner for the high school’s cross country team — Claudia decided that she wanted to run Saturday’s race. It was an impressive debut. She managed to keep pace with much older, more experienced runners, winning not only a first-place medal, but also a lot of respect.
The other big surprise this year was that, for the first time in eight years, Keith Gray, the owner of Diamond Shoals Restaurant, did not take first place.
His time of 18:53—which still seems practically inhuman to us slow-pokes—earned him second place this year, behind Steve Crowder and his blistering 18:07 finish.
To be fair, though, there are far, far worse ways to end an eight-year winning streak than coming in second behind a guy like Crowder.
Crowder, 39, of Fincastle, Va., is something of a professional runner, and he is currently sponsored by Brooks, a well-known shoe and apparel company that focuses heavily on running gear.
And for his part, Crowder was very gracious toward Gray and his performance.
“I won the Colony Lost and Found 5k in Manteo while we were down here last October,” he said, “and met Keith Gray, the gentleman who finished second, then. He’s a very good runner and took the pace out pretty fast this Saturday, so he made me do some work, which isn’t a bad thing…I was fortunate to be able to run well enough to get the win.”
It was a fun, festive event, and, in the end, it raised nearly $7,700 for the Hatteras Island Cancer Foundation.
But it wasn’t just about pink and prizes.
According to foundation vice-president Donna Barnett, the Hatteras Island Cancer Foundation—an all-volunteer organization whose principal mission is to offer financial assistance to Hatteras Island cancer patients and their families—has given more than $500,000 to more than 100 community families.
The Fun Run is just one of the groups’s annual fundraising events, but it has become one of the most important—not only because of the funds it raises, but because of what it has come to mean to the community it serves.
There were, of course, many who were there on Saturday just for the chance to race, but many others were there to honor friends and loved ones who had battled cancer, survived cancer, or were currently struggling through it.
Jennifer Johnson and Kristen Gray, both of Hatteras, were two such participants.
Gray said that she was walking in honor of quite a few people, and in particular, her mother-in-law, Alice Gray, who died of breast cancer.
Her 11-year-old son Dylan also ran for Alice Gray—and he won a third-place medal in his grandmother’s honor.
But walking in memory of her mother-in-law was not the only reason Gray signed up. She was also there to walk alongside of—and in support of—her lifelong best friend, Jennifer Johnson, whose mother, Barbara McDowell Foster, is still fighting what has been a long war with metastatic breast cancer.
Johnson said that she participated in the Fun Run not just to honor the strength of her mother’s spirit, but also to support the foundation.
Though she and her family have been fortunate enough not to need the foundation’s services, Johnson knows first-hand what cancer can take out of patients and their families—emotionally, physically, and financially—and she said she has a lot of appreciation for the foundation and the work that they do.
“It’s an amazing group of hard-working people who do a great service and have helped a multitude of people,” she said. “At least someone from our family walks or runs [in the Fun Run] every year.”
“My favorite year,” she added, “was the year my mom was able to walk with us.”
In many ways, the Fun Run has become much more than a race. It has become an outlet for lots of people, from lots of different communities to come together—in support of cancer patients, in support of one another, and in support of an organization that has helped so many.
As Crowder put it, “I think all of us know someone who has been affected by cancer, so it’s nice to be part of something that raises money for a group that helps cancer victims.”
2012 Fun Run Winners
1st Place: Steve Crowder, 18:07
2nd Place: Keith Gray, 18:53
3rd Place: Paul Ranno, 22:44
1st Place: Angela Cothern, 23:10
2nd Place: Leslie Kelch, 27:41
3rd Place: Maria Ballance, 28:16
Boys 18 and Under Division
1st Place: Jonah Dixon
2nd Place: Noah Ranno
3rd Place: Dylan Gray
Girls 18 and Under Division
1st Place: Claudia Caldwell
2nd Place: Kaylee Barnett
3rd Place: Emmiline Baker
Adult: Melinda Baker
Child: Emmiline Baker
If you missed the Fun Run, but would like to support the foundation, there are still T-shirts available for purchase. The cost is $10. Contact Donna Barnett for more information. You can e-mail her at [email protected] And you can contribute on the cancer foundation website, www.hicf.org.
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Risky Business Seafood • Shipwreck Grill • Cape Hatteras Electric Cooperative
Road’s End Gallery/Happy Belly Ice Cream • Trisha Midgett, Midgett Realty
Hatteras Realty • Avon Property Owners’ Association • Cafe 12 • Village Marina
Carla Reynolds, RE/MAX Ocean Realty • Happy Waters Pool and Spa Services
Dare Building/Custom Kitchens • Frisco Rod and Gun • Askins Creek BP Store
Daniel Pullen Photography • Cape Hatteras Motel • Buxton Village Books
Dixon and Dixon Law Offices • Studio 12 • Albatross Fleet • Mead Slagle, DDS
Izabelle’s Closet • Blue Pelican Gallery • Cape Hatteras Fit Camp
Hatteras Harbor Marina • Kostich & O’Neal • Island Xpertees • Hatteras HI
Island Convenience • Sun Realty • www.islandfreepress.org
Rebel Oilfield Production Services
Burrus Red & White • Hatteras Marlin Club • Conner’s Supermarket
Sea Chest • Studio 12 • Spa Koru • Island Convenience • Blue Whale
Hatteras Jack • Cafe 12 • Shoreline • Rodanthe Surf Shop
Village Marina • Food Lion • Subway • Frisco Mini Golf and Go Karts
North Beach Campground • Lee Robinson’s General Store