Students unite in Race for the Cure

Runners turn the corner at East 9th Street and Lakeside Avenue during the 5K Race for the Cure. LESLEY KATZENMEYER | DAILY KENT STATER

Credit: Jason Hall

Pink wigs, shoes and bunny ears filled the streets of downtown Cleveland Saturday morning in support of breast cancer.

More than 160 people from Kent State were among the 25,000 participants at the Race for the Cure. The Women’s Resource Center organized Team Kent, a group of students who traveled by bus to the event.

Cassie Marks, junior management and information systems major, said she thinks fighting for breast cancer is an important cause because her great aunt survived the disease.

Katy Hunter, senior finance and fashion merchandising major, held markers and encouraged everyone to sign a board to show their appreciation for the volunteers. She said the sign will be displayed at the Susan G. Komen office in Cleveland.

Many of the participants had personal stories to tell:

• Janet Allen, 58, of Warrensville Heights, a breast cancer survivor, showed off her bright pink sneakers and hat, encouraging efforts to fight for the cure. Since her diagnosis five years ago, she said she has never missed the race.

She said she was able to overcome the disease through the help of her family, friends and support groups.

• Merle Schwartz, 62, a representative from Oreck, carried a pink vacuum adorned with the breast cancer ribbon. He said his store in Mayfield Heights started the company’s drive for the Susan G. Komen Foundation.

He said the company originally pledged $250,000 and currently has raised about $600,000.

“It’s great that people get together for a worthy cause,” he said.

He said his wife is a breast and thyroid cancer survivor.

• Brian Gilpin, 26, of Cuyahoga Falls, walked in the race for the second time with Team Premier Building Network, a medical company. He said his girlfriend’s mom is a breast cancer survivor, and he was amazed by the overwhelming turnout.

“There’s so many people here,” he said. “There’s a lot of support for everyone that comes out here.”

n Megan Ruff, 15, along with other members of the girls hockey team from Gilmour Academy near Cleveland, wore an “Ask me” T-shirt to provide participants with general information about the activities.

She said the team wanted to become closer, so they chose to volunteer at the race to project their efforts toward a worthy cause.

n Sherry Petryszyn, 52, of North Royalton stood in the freezing cold with two hats covering her bare head. She said she has been fighting breast cancer since April and recently finished chemotherapy.

Knowing she wasn’t alone helped her keep faith while fighting the disease.

“I think it’s good for people to get together,” she said. “You realize you’re not the only one with a problem – you’re one in the sea of survivors.”

Contact student life reporter Kelli Koch at [email protected]. Contact student life reporter Nedda Pourahmady at [email protected].