On May 10th, thousands of people will converge outside the Avera McKennan Fitness Center in Sioux Falls for the 20th annual Avera Race Against Breast Cancer. Some will run, some will walk but everyone is supporting "the cause". For two middle school teachers in Sioux Falls the race is personal.
Back when Judy Davis was diagnosed with breast cancer in 1986 she says no one talked about cancer, there was no Internet, no cancer institute to seek out information. The 7th grade teacher at Patrick Henry Middle School is glad times have changed.
Judy says, "The students aren't afraid to talk about cancer. When they talk about it we tend internalize it and then it becomes less scary."
More than 300 students have joined "the friends of Judy team" to participate in this year's Avera Race Against Breast Cancer. She's raised more than $11,000 .
Judy says, "And if I've done nothing else in the last 20 years at least hopefully I put a face on breast cancer. If I can go out and talk to people and say hey you can survive this. My diagnosis was not the best when I started out, but you can have a very full life. There is life after cancer. I'm so appreciate 20 years ago my sister Peggy Kirby, the Junior League and Jackie Haggar-Tuschen started the race to raise money and bring about awareness."
Across town another teacher is very active in the Race Against Breast Cancer. In 2004 Amber Sundvold raced in honor of her mother who had breast cancer, but sadly in 2006 it changed to in memory.
Amber says, "Not only am I running in memory of her, I'm running to help support anybody else that's going through it or has been through it."
Amber's mom bravely battled breast cancer for 10 years before her body finally gave in 3 years ago. That lit a fire in this Edison Middle School teacher to do something. This year for the race she's raised more than $3,600.
Amber says, "I love the fact that the money being raised through registration fees and fundraising is being used to help those people going through it and because of my mom I have a little taste of what they are going through. So to know I'm able to help them in some way makes me feel good."
TWO women whose lives were changed because of breast cancer. TWO educators teaching us perhaps the best lesson; ONE can make a difference.
This year, monies from the Avera Race Against Breast Cancer will support the expansion of the Avera Cancer Institute's comprehensive breast health services and survivorship programs. A breast health navigator serves as a care coordinator throughout the continuum of care assessing the physical, emotional, social, and spiritual needs of every patient. Each cancer patient will receive dietitian consultations and the opportunity to participate in survivorship programs such as the new "A Time to Heal". The Avera Race Against Breast Cancer continues to support the operation of the Community Cancer Resource Library, a comprehensive wig program to provide free wigs and consultations, and the Cancer Fitness Rehabilitation Program, all while remaining devoted to assisting patients with out-of-pocket expenses.