Sunday afternoon at the 15th Annual Unite & Fight Walk & 5K Run, healthcare professionals and staff of the Community Healthcare System, local community members and friends came together to show support for the Cancer Resource Centre in Munster. A program of the Community Cancer Research Foundation, the Cancer Resource Centre is dedicated to improving the quality of cancer care available in the local community. Participants from diverse backgrounds came together to honor cancers survivors and those who have lost their battle in a race around Munster High School Football Field. Together the community will, and did, make a difference!
For 15 years, teams representing the hospitals of Community Healthcare System: Community Hospital, Munster, St. Catherine Hospital, East Chicago and St. Mary Medical Center, Hobart; local businesses and those in the community have walked or run for the cancer center, generating more than $1 million for programs and support. The Cancer Resource Centre, located at 926 Ridge Road in Munster, helps those affected by cancer obtain the support and resources they need to cope with a diagnosis. All services including support groups, educational programs and networking groups, are offered to cancer patients and their family members free of charge. The Centre is funded from donations and grants, in-kind donations and volunteer support.
"The Cancer Resource Centre provides cancer patients, survivors and caregivers with support groups, educational programs and encouragement," said Rachel Lewis, outreach coordinator, Cancer Resource Centre.
"Everything we do is free of charge, and the fundraiser helps things stay that way. We want to let people know that there is a place for them and they don't have to be alone through their battles," Lewis added.
Although it was cloudy, the cancer survivors shined as they stood in the center of the football field, creating a human cancer ribbon. In unison, they each held a purple (representing all cancers) sheet of paper above their heads creating a fantastic view.
Alice Cannon, whose first year in the race was a dedication to her sister who died of lung cancer, is a business manager for Community Healthcare System and captain of the Miracle Walkers team. Every year, she and her coworkers volunteer to participate because they have all been touch by cancer, either personally or by coworkers at the healthcare system. The late Ron Evans, who was a nurse manager for the healthcare system, passed away from colon cancer, but his wife, Mary Ann Evans, has kept his memory alive by walking and being a part of the team every year.
"This year we are also honoring Robyn, one of our employees who is undergoing treatment for breast cancer,” said Joanne Joyce, a registered nurse. “Everyone's got a peach ribbon on, and we're trying to represent Robyn. We're coming together as a team just like we do every day; it's a family, not just a department at the hospital.”
Children ran 100-yard dash as fast as they could to reach the finish line and were awarded tiny gold medals for their effort. A young woman from Munster High School sang the "Star Spangled Banner” while the crowd placed their hands over their hearts. Participants walked in silence around the field behind a line of men who played the bagpipes before the race began.
Each participant has their own reason for racing. Breast cancer survivors Dal Sacramento and Sharon Laramie were happy to be involved and show their support.
"I want to be able to help support the Cancer Resource Centre because they supported me when I need help the most,” said Sacramento. “I've met people closest and dearest to me from the support groups,"
"The Cancer Resource Centre has been a godsend. I had breast cancer two and a half years ago, so participating is a way for me to give back," said Laramie.
The Munster High School cheerleaders congratulated those who crossed the finish line and offered them a bottle of water. There was plenty of food and more fun after the race was finished.
It was another successful Unite & Fight Walk & 5K Run for the Cancer Resource Centre and all those who participated! Each and every one will continue fighting for a cure and bring awareness to the community. For more information about cancer care at the hospitals of Community Healthcare System, please visit www.comhs.org.