In 4 days (May 8th) thousands of people will converge outside the Avera McKennan Fitness Center in Sioux Falls for the 22nd Annual Avera Race Against Breast Cancer. It is a big day for survivors, runners and walkers, but it's been months in the making for the 600 volunteers who make it happen year after year.
If it takes a village to raise a child, then it takes a small army of volunteers to raise awareness and organize the Avera Race Against Breast Cancer now in it's 22 year of raising money for patients and families touched by cancer in our area.
Sharron Castle from Sioux Falls has been involved in the race all 22 years. First, by walking in it and now by volunteering for it. She loves every minute and believe me she gives thousands of minutes of her time every year.
Sharron says, "I do this because of the satisfaction of volunteering for a cause that is really important to me. I just don't think we can volunteer enough in our communities. We need to emphasize that."
On April 30th the assembly line had already started in the basketball court at the Avera McKennan Fitness Center putting together packets for all the registered teams. There are 148 teams registered for this years race, that's 2000 people alone. One team named The Circle of Hope had 118 people in it alone. Each person gets a bag, with a t-shirt, a pink survivor t-shirt if they are a breast cancer survivor, and a packet of information.
Jean Snyders is the Pulmonary Rehab Coordinator at Avera McKennan and is also the Coordinator of Volunteers for the Avera Race. She says, "If we had just a small staff putting it together we couldn't do it. We rely heavily on the volunteers."
For Jean, this became personal 16 years ago.
Jean says, "The race is important to me because in 1994 my mother-in-law passed away from breast cancer. Two years later my mom was diagnosed with it and in 2000 I was diagnosed myself. This is a very special cause to me."
When I asked Sharron about the energy and emotion during the day of the race she said, "You are right, you cannot describe it. It brings a tear to my eye. All those people working for one cause."
And remember on race day all the people behind the scenes who may not even see, that like you, are also working for that same cause.
The race is Saturday May 8th at 8:00 am. You can still sign up to participate or volunteer. (You can sign up to run or walk race day too) if you can't do either but want to donate to the cause you can do that all online at www.averathinkpink.org