BANGOR, Maine — Melanie Robbenhaar left the Race for the Cure loaded down with goodies.
Besides the pink rose she was handed for being a breast cancer survivor, she also carried to her van a tote bag that held shoelaces, a key chain, a scarf, seeds, soap, lotion and a clip-on plastic ribbon that flashed pink as she moved.
Those things, however, were not what Robbenhaar, 47, of Bangor treasured most about the event.
“The love and the energy is just overwhelming,” she said. “This event is so unbelievably moving. It’s a tribute to the strength of women everywhere.”
That strength swelled this year to more than 5,000 strong, according to organizers, and raised at least $310,000 — $41,000 more than the 2008 race did. Last year, the event drew more than 4,600 participants and raised about $269,000.
This was the second year Robbenhaar participated in the race. The first was last year, when she walked the course about a month after she had undergone a double mastectomy. Since then, she has had reconstructive surgery and radiation treatments.
Robbenhaar’s team dubbed itself the Bangor Region Soccer Fans and raised about $2,000, she said. It included her son, Brian Loiselle, an 18-year-old junior who plays on the Bangor High School soccer team. He and his teammates ran the race.
His younger brother, Ben Loiselle, 14, who also plays soccer, walked the course with his mother.
“I’ll never miss it again,” Robbenhaar said of the race.
This was the third year in a row the race surpassed the previous year’s attendance and fundraising numbers, Sally Bilancia, executive director of the Maine affiliate of Susan G. Komen for the Cure, said Sunday after the race.
It also was the last year the Race for the Cure will be held only in Bangor. Next year, races will be held in Portland and Bangor on the same day. Sunday was the 13th consecutive year the race has been held.
Bilancia said last week that the vast majority of people who participate in the event live north of Augusta. Adding a race in southern Maine will make it easier for people in Androscoggin, York, Cumberland and other counties in western and southern Maine to take part, she said.
About 75 percent of the funds raised each year are used to provide education, treatment and screening to the uninsured and underinsured in Maine, according to Bilancia. Komen Maine does not provide direct services, she said, but awards grants to groups such as the Breast Cancer Coalition that do. The other 25 percent funds research.
The Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure was founded in 1982 and launched the global breast cancer movement, according to Bilancia. Today, the organization is the world’s largest grass-roots network of breast cancer survivors and activists working to save lives, empower people, ensure quality care for all and energize scientists to find a cure.
For more information, visit www.komenmaine.com.