BANGOR, Maine — For Megan Hansen of Guilford, Sunday’s Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure was extremely personal.
Hansen was diagnosed with breast cancer five days after last year’s race. After she completed her first round of treatment, her doctor discovered the disease had moved to her brain.
She did not let the diagnosis inhibit her sense of humor or her commitment to the event. Hansen and her team of more than 100, all from Piscataquis County, sported on the backs of their official race T-shirts a silhouette of the mountain in whose shadow they live with the words “Mount Katatas” emblazoned above Katahdin’s familiar peaks.
“We set a goal of raising $1,000,” she said just before the race began. “So far, we’ve raised $5,000.”
Hansen was one of more than 5,600 people who turned out Sunday morning on the Bangor Waterfront to participate in the annual event, Executive Director Sally Bilancia said in a press release issued about five hours after the last participant crossed the finish line.
“This is the fifth straight year that the race has broken [attendance] records, but we will not rest until there is a cure,” she said.
Although final fundraising figures will not be available for three weeks, this year’s race most likely brought in more than $300,000, according to Bilancia. About $325,000 was raised last year in Bangor.
That does not include the $125,000 raised in Portland on Sept. 12 at the first Komen race in that city, she said. About 1,300 people participated in that event.
Maine was the first state to have two races in different locations, Bilancia told the crowd Sunday before the race began.
In addition to individuals and teams, many Bangor area schools were represented at the 14th annual event. Fifteen members of Hampden Academy’s varsity fall cheerleading squad, dressed in their purple and black warm-up suits and carrying pom poms, came to cheer on the runners and walkers.
“‘Get mammograms and breast exams, I am the cure’ is what we’re going to cheer,” Kara Day, 16, of Hampden said before the race began. “It’s important to raise awareness about that and to raise money for research.”
Carl Farnham, 16, of Bangor ran the race last year. This year, he was sidelined due to a fractured toe suffered in football practice, but volunteered to help direct people to registration areas.
“It’s important for us to help out and raise money for such a good cause so this nasty disease never affects anyone else,” he said, surrounded by classmates who also were participating. “We all have relatives or know someone who’s had cancer.”
The large number of participants in the event forced some streets between the Bangor Waterfront and the Bangor Civic Center and Auditorium on Main Street to close temporarily.
Front and Railroad streets in the waterfront area closed from 6 a.m. until about 2 p.m. Sunday, according to Bangor police. Summer, May, Lincoln and Buck streets and a block of Webster Avenue between Lincoln and Buck streets closed between 9:30 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. during the race.
To date, the Komen Maine affiliate has invested nearly $1.8 million in state education, screening and treatment programs, as well as more than $500,000 to breast cancer research through the Susan G. Komen for the Cure grants program, according to information on its website. Nearly $500,000 has returned to Maine in the form of research grants through that program.