CEDAR FALLS — A sea of pink brightened a drizzly, gray morning on Cedar Falls Main Street.
More than a thousand people participated in the 13th annual Pink Ribbon Run Saturday despite heavy rain, brisk winds and temperatures that hovered around 50 degrees.
“The community support we receive is amazing,” Gabbi DeWitt told participants before they embarked on the 5K run/walk. “You people saw the forecast and you still came.”
DeWitt is one of the organizers of the event, which raises money for Beyond Pink TEAM, a local coalition that supports breast cancer survivors and advocates for prevention research. The Pink Ribbon Run has raised more than $370,000 since 2006.
“I think it’s representative of what it’s like to go through cancer,” DeWitt said of the turnout. “You can’t decide not to go through cancer if the weather is bad or if you just don’t want to do it.”
The 1,063 runners and walkers this year is a record, surpassing 2018’s good-weather total of 1,003 participants. That includes 149 cancer survivors, who posed for a photograph together before the race.
“I think that just represents how much people just want to support our community,” Dewitt said. “What I would like is that we don’t have to do this race because people aren’t getting diagnosed anymore. But every year, our number of survivors goes up.”
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Mara Jones, of Raymond, was one of the survivors who was joined on “Team Mara” by family members and co-workers.
“It’s a great event,” said Jones, who has been cancer free for three years. “But we’re just walking.”
About 20 members of the “Angie’s Too Inspired to Be Tired” team were dressed in pink tutus and black T-shirts saying, “screw cancer.”
“A few years ago our mom (Angie) was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer,” said Joey Linder. “We started running a year after that and we’ve been running for her every year. Rain or shine, we’re still here.
“Every year it seems to get bigger and bigger,” he added. “It’s a way to show support as long as we find a cure.”
This year’s Pink Ribbon Run “spotlight survivor” was Sherry Schumacher, who participated in the run for four years to support a co-worker before she was diagnosed with breast cancer herself in 2015. Schumacher lost her cancer battle in April 2018, but her family and friends continue to support the Pink Ribbon Run with a garage sale. Her daughter, Rachel, presented a $3,500 check to Beyond Pink TEAM before the race.
Friend Mary Rekers read a letter Schumacher had written about the Pink Ribbon Run, which said, “It shows the strength of so many women and also those who have been their support systems as they go through their cancer experience.”