BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - The 2019 Susan G. Komen Baton Rouge Race for the Cure was obviously a race with winners, but it was not about rushing to beat the people racing to reach the finish line. The race through the downtown area Saturday morning was about uplifting those that faced breast cancer and conquered it.
“You just want to reach out to people and touch them and love on them,” said Cheryl Kirk, a breast cancer survivor.
Kirk said before she was diagnosed she would participate in the race as a way to support her friends. However, Kirk said she’s been racing with a different purpose in mind for the last few years.
“When I got breast cancer they supported me,” Kirk said, reminiscing on the times she leaned on her friends in the race. Kirk has been cancer free for five years.
Another woman, Allyson Bonner, recently began her journey.
Bonner was diagnosed with Stage 3 breast cancer in March 2018. “I went through five really difficult months of chemotherapy. I had a bilateral mastectomy and lymph nodes dissection and then jumped right back to chemo,” Bonner said.
Bonner said being told she’d have to face a battle like no other changed her mindset.
“I just had to start fighting,” Bonner said. “I think you start learning to survive from day one.”
The women both agreed that a kindred spirit of perseverance is formed when racing shoulder-to-shoulder with people that have traveled similar paths and are now in remission.
“It’s just such a difficult thing to go through. When you see the love out here and people come and support you,” Kirk said. “It’s an unbelievable feeling.”
Another participant, Venice Fleming-Snearl, said she was racing for her mother, Sandra.
Fleming-Snearl and her family have been participating for the last six years. She said they started walking when her mom was diagnosed with breast cancer for the second time. Her mother, Sandra Fleming-Minor, passed away 4 years ago.
“This is just a way to honor my mom and my aunt,” Fleming-Snearl said. “It’s different because it’s more emotional for me knowing that my mom isn’t here. She was here at one point when we started,” Fleming-Snearl says.
Through fundraising efforts and the dedication of its participants, the 2019 race raised over $150,000 of the $300,000 goal to helping fund breast cancer research as well as educational and scientific programs around the world.
“When you see the longevity of people’s survival rates. It’s so promising. It makes me feel like there’s a lot of hope. A lot of hope for the future,” Bonner said.
Up to 75 percent of the funds from the race will go toward funding grants for Baton Rouge hospitals and organizations that provide screenings and breast health education.
Click here if you’d like to make a donation. Donations are accepted up to 30 days after the race.