Pink Army’s Legions Take to Palm Coast for Breast Cancer Battles Past, Present and Future
FlaglerLive | October 13, 2013
See the image gallery below.
The only thing that would have made it a finer occasion on a more perfect day–bluish skies, crisp morning temperatures, the sort of communal warmth one feels around Christmas parades–would have been if Sunday morning’s Pink Army run through Palm Coast’s Town Center had been a victory run to celebrate the defeat of a cancer that takes the lives of 40,000 women a year.
That victory may be some years away yet. But there is a sense, and it is more than a hope, that the victory run is a matter of time. Meanwhile, those battling for the end of breast cancer continue to run to raise awareness, raise money and raise spirits for those battling today, as some 500 to 800 runners, walkers and cheerers did this morning in the fourth annual Pink Army Run chiefly organized by Florida Hospital Flagler and the city of Palm Coast.“I think I’ve teared up about 10 times here,” Flagler County Commissioner Charlie Ericksen said as he stood at the intersection of Hospital Drive and Town Center Boulevard in his bicycle helmet, his bike parked, directing runners. “I think it’s 25 years ago that I’ve lost my mom to breast cancer. She had a procedure and they gave her the OK, and everything was OK. Five years later she had a tumor on her sternum and lasted only six months more. That was about 25 years ago. That’s why I”m here. Plus I’m a cancer survivor myself. I had melanoma on my forehead. That’s what this scar is on my forehead. They didn’t do much cosmetic surgery back in the early 70s.”
The event began a little bit after dawn in what turned into a second dawn of pink shirts, pink tutus, pink bras (on a man in one case) and the pinked up hair of a few teenagers.
“I would like each of us to turn our heads and look around,” Dr. Karen Toppi, a gynecologist at the hospital, told the assembly moments before the race. “We see many different faces, all coming together for something much larger and greater than ourselves. These are the faces of those who have been touched by breast cancer. So why do we walk? We are here to walk for our mothers, our sisters, our daughters, our aunts and our significant others. And there are some that are also walking for themselves. We walk endlessly so that we can try to postpone that day when cancer becomes a part of our lives for the first time, a second or even third time. We are here for the women and men that are battling their fight today. We are here for those who have lost their battle and we are even here for those who don’t even know that their battle is yet to come.”As the runners and walkers made their way from the starting arch through Town Center’s Hospital Drive, their first-mile marker was a surprise: a quartet of the Flagler Youth Orchestra played under a tent at the corner of Hospital Drive and Town Center Boulevard, its jolts of Purcell, Bach and Mozart caffeinating the participants, who responded with smiles and thumb-ups. Some of them twice: the course had the runners loop around Town Center and back through the same intersection before crossing the finish line.
That same finish line waiting for its own eventual end.
“Although 3 million women are battling this disease,” Palm Coast Mayor Jon Netts told everyone before the race, “mortalities in America have been declining. So while you’re lacing your shoes this morning, remember that the proceeds from Pink Army Run stay right here in our community, providing funds for mammograms and diagnostic services and assuring that our numbers contribute to this decline in cancer fatalities.”
He added: “As may of you know, my wife Priscilla has been fighting breast cancer and we’ve been facing her challenges to claim victory over her illness. Her resilience has taught me endurance and her courage has strengthened mine. Being here today is one more step on our journey toward healing.”
Priscilla Netts was at the mayor’s side.
“The response from the public is overwhelming, it’s absolutely beautiful–to see that the people who have had breast cancer, who might have it, or don’t ever have it, are here,” Priscilla Netts said. “I’m very fortunate. Everything went well, the treatments are finished, I’ve recovered, and it’s all good.”
Pink Army Run 2013: The Image Gallery