First timers and long timers, walkers and runners, volunteers and donors - most all of them wearing long-sleeved, pastel pink t-shirts - showed up in Cole Park on Oct. 5 to continue a decade-long tradition of supporting the Stephanie L. Miner Women's Imaging Center at SLV Health Regional Medical Center.
More than 800 people registered for the 10th Annual Stephanie L. Miner 5k Walk and Run. Along with the dozen-plus businesses who signed on as supporters, they helped to raise more than $31,000 for the imaging center.
Participants arrived under a pink balloon arch at the park's First Street entrance. Geraldine Trujillo and her daughter Nicole made sure of that, as they have since the first walk. "We are in charge of the arch all the time," said Geraldine, who comes before sunrise to help construct the arch out of helium balloons. Nicole said. "It's our bonding time. We always do the arch together."
For another mother and daughter, this year's race would be their first. Cleo and Riana Montoya sported long socks decorated with the names of relatives who have had breast cancer.
"My Aunt Betty passed away and Aunt Cece is in remission, so we're doing this for them," said Cleo. Way ahead of them, and one of the first to cross the finish line, was Sargent High School sophomore Logan Sessums.
"My mom has been good friends with the Miners and I've come out every year except one," he said. "Our whole cross country team came out today."
So did the cross country team from Adams State University, who has made it a tradition since 2011 to start off the race and then finish with a congratulation line for other runners. The ASU wrestlers used their muscles to help set up and tear down for the event, as they've done the past four years.
SLV Health Foundation Director Kelly Gurule organizes the event and appreciates their dependability. "They never hesitate to do what's asked of them," she said. "And the enthusiasm of all the student athletes is contagious." This was evident when the ASU cross country team worked up the crowd doing a flash mob to the tune of "YMCA."
Equally infectious were the smiles, laughter, and pink adornments. Five-year-old Bailey Armstrong and her two-year-old sister Harper had glittery pink ribbons on their cheeks in honor of their grandmother who is a survivor. Others had come dressed as super heroes, tigers and even large rodents, to take part in a first time costume competition. The super heroes garnered the most crowd applause.
Traditions continued, including the auctioning of a quilt made by Bev Hettinger using T-shirts from this and other local events that support the imaging center. The winning bid was $700. For the second year in a row, racers crossing the bridge at the end of the course were handed pink carnations to keep or toss into the Rio Grande River to honor or remember loved ones who have battled cancer. For the 10th straight year, the Motz and Miner Families provided a potato bar to participants with toppings donated by Mountain View Restaurant.
Chris Miner, husband of Stephanie who passed away of breast cancer in 2003, shared that he never expected the event to continue beyond a few years. "I see people every year that I've never seen here before that I know from the community," he said. "It's great to see new people coming out and supporting the cause."
This year's event will push the amount raised for the imaging center since 2004 to over $200,000. These funds were instrumental in its opening in 2006 and have since assisted with the purchase of updated equipment and services, including the CARE Fund that helps pay for services that some patients may not otherwise be able to afford.
"Live are being saved because of this," said Gurule. "To everyone who has ever participated, thank you, and we hope to see you next fall at the 11th Annual Stephanie L. Miner 5k Walk and Run."