Beth Williams will be one of several “Champions” to carry a colored flag representing the various colors of cancer during a Champion Lap preceding the Colors of Courage 5K/10K taking place at TAMC on Sept. 29. She is carrying the pink flag in celebration of her triumph over breast cancer and to show support for all of those who have or are currently facing that battle.
PRESQUE ISLE — Community members will once again have the opportunity to support their family members, friends and neighbors in their fight against cancer during the annual Colors of Courage on Saturday, September 29, in Presque Isle. The event begins and ends on TAMC’s A.R. Gould Memorial Hospital campus on Academy Street.
The Colors of Courage will feature a 5K and, new this year, a 10K option as well. Both are open to runners and walkers who want to provide financial and emotional support to those affected by cancer in The County. All proceeds will benefit Aroostook Cancer Care.
“This is one of my favorite events of the year,” says Jamie Guerrette, TAMC community health specialist and coordinator of the event. “The stories that our champions and other participants share with us are incredibly touching and sometimes heartbreaking, but seeing their strength or hearing about the character of the loved one they are walking or running for really makes a difference. I am incredibly touched and honored when people are willing to share such personal stories to support this worthy cause. And the fact that this event gets people outside and active, some of whom have never before taken part in a 5K, is just an added bonus.”
The “champions” Guerrette refers to are more than a dozen individuals who are carrying a specific Colors of Courage colored flag, with each flag representing a cancer that has impacted the lives of those carrying them. In some cases, the colored flag bearers have fought their own battle with cancer; in other cases, they are honoring or remembering a loved one touched by one of the forms of this deadly disease. These champions, along with their supporters, will walk a special lap around the hospital campus with their flags to kick-off the event after a brief welcome at 9:30 am.
One such champion is Courtney Lovely of Presque Isle. Lovely is walking in honor of her father, Dwight Junkins. Junkins was diagnosed with a rare blood cancer, Myelodysplastic Syndrome (MDS), in April. He was able to take part in a clinical trial through Dana Farber Cancer Institute in Boston and did well enough that he underwent a stem cell transplant on September 5.
“I was told when someone you love is diagnosed with cancer, the whole family is diagnosed with cancer and your life will never be the same. There isn’t a truer statement that’s ever been made,” says Lovely. She goes on to point out that there is also strength and growth following a diagnosis.
“You learn a lot when faced with a cancer diagnosis. In the face of fear, you learn cancer is no match for the knowledge held by the doctors whose passion is to eradicate cancer and the scientific research being performed in clinical trials around the world. It also can’t take away the donors; the amazing people willing to give hope to families like mine, complete strangers, in a moment’s notice through the selfless gift of life without question. Most of all though, you learn that cancer can’t break the love of a family as hard as it may try, and many days, that love is what gets you through some of the darkest moments you have ever faced. Our family is strong, we are ready, and we will continue to face this fight together like we have from day one.”
That same sense of strength and personal growth is echoed by another champion, Beth Williams of Presque Isle, who will be carrying a pink flag to celebrate her triumph over breast cancer. Williams has turned her life around regarding physical activity since her recovery.
“While I wish I had never been diagnosed with cancer, some good did come of it,” explains Williams. “I had never been a physically active person. And while I was so ill going through treatment, being physically active wasn’t an option. Once I got through it, and started becoming active, I began to challenge myself in ways I never thought possible. Some people have told me I’m an inspiration. I’m not so sure about that. But if people can watch me do what I do, after everything I’ve been through, and if it makes them realize they can do it too, that makes me happy, and maybe it was worth it!”
These champions and many more have been sharing their personal stories leading up to the Colors of Courage to help show why this cause, which touches so many people, is important to support. Their stories will be shared on social medial and will also be posted on the Colors of Courage webpage: www.tamc.org/colorsofcourage.
Following the Champion lap, the 10K will get underway at 10:00 am, followed by the free Kids Fun Run lap around the hospital campus. This is open to all children age 12 and under. This distance is about half a mile, and all finishers will be awarded an event medal. Once the Kids Fun Run lap is complete, the 5K gets underway. Both the 5K and 10K courses begin and end on the hospital campus, and course maps are available online on the Colors of Courage webpage. All 5K and 10K participants will receive a commemorative bib, medal and an event t-shirt.
Registration cost 5K and 10K is only $20 for those who register online prior to Sept. 26. The cost goes up to $25 for those who prefer to wait and register in person on the morning of the event or during packet pick up the evening before. All registration fees will go to Aroostook Cancer Care to support patient care. In addition, financial support from several sponsors will also go to this important cause. Event sponsor is Chad Brewer, Allstate Insurance Agent. Also supporting the event are Dead River Oil, MMG Insurance and United Insurance.
To take part in the 5K, 10K, or free Kids Fun Run, or to sign up to volunteer at the event, you can register online at www.tamc.org/colorseofcourage. To guarantee an event t-shirt in your size, you must register by September 15 (t-shirts are for 5K or 10K participants and volunteers only). Packet pickup and in person registration takes place 4-6 p.m. Friday, Sept. 28, and 8:30-9:15 a.m. Saturday, Sept. 29, in the Pinkham lobby at TAMC.
More details regarding the event can be found on the TAMC website and questions can be directed to Jamie Guerrette at 207-768-4008.