Note: This article first appeared in the Winter 2012 issue of Focus.
Relaying Support for Cancer
A few years ago, Karen Wells was "sweeping the course" checking for stragglers at the end of the Remembrance Run race. "I caught up to a woman who has Multiple Sclerosis. She was still out on the course, walking with her ski poles for balance, with great determination to finish the 5K walk. I was inspired by how she was giving her all, as difficult as it was for her, to raise funds for cancer."
Karen is current director of the Remembrance Run, an event that began 18 years ago to support the Women’s Cancer Fund. The race is held each October during Breast Cancer Awareness Month. "I am inspired by people, who regardless of their circumstance, continue to help support others. This inspires me to keep trying to make improvements to the Remembrance Run to raise more money and get more people involved."
Karen dedicated her efforts in 2011 to her good friend and neighbor, Gloria, who battled breast cancer for four years. She lost her battle with cancer in December. "In the past 10 years of my life, never has there been a moment when someone close to me wasn’t struggling with cancer," she said. "It seems that just when one person beats the disease, another would be diagnosed. It just speaks to how widespread cancer is."
Karen was mentored into her role by Michelle Witkop, FNP-BC Hemophilia Nurse Practitioner, who founded the event in 1997. "I credit Michelle for not only starting the Remembrance Run, but also for being one of the visionaries who helped establish the Women’s Cancer Fund."
The Women’s Cancer Fund is used to help lessen the stress and financial burden on women who are undergoing cancer treatment. The 2011 event raised a record $30,200, bringing the total raised since the beginning to more than $160,000.
Karen attributes the event’s success to the dedicated team of volunteers who make it happen. "I totally rely on our amazing volunteers. I am just the conductor - they are the talent," she said. "What we go through to help run this event is a piece of cake compared to what those who have
Karen is overwhelmed by the generosity of the people she comes in contact with. "Before taking on the role as director, I tried to figure out how I could help the Remembrance Run grow, so I asked Michelle about getting potential sponsors. She told me to ‘go for it.’ The next day, I was sitting at Bill Marsh getting my oil changed and I decided to walk into Jamie Marsh’s office and see if they would be interested in being a Remembrance Run sponsor, and the rest is history - they have been huge supporters ever since!"
"That first success, asking Jamie Marsh, helped build my confidence in getting donations, because I thought since he said yes, maybe others would too. And, so far, I have not had a potential sponsor turn me down."
The Remembrance Run is held the first Saturday of October at Timber Ridge.