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Running Cancer out of Scranton

SCRANTON, Pa. — There is no room for breast cancer in downtown Scranton, so fighters, survivors, and supporters are running it right out of town. “I...

SCRANTON, Pa. -- There is no room for breast cancer in downtown Scranton, so fighters, survivors, and supporters are running it right out of town.

"I wouldn't be here today if it wasn't for research, to be honest with you, because the options I had when I was first diagnosed at 34 are much different than when I was re-diagnosed 10 years later, so hopefully it doesn't come back, but if it does, we'll have more options then," said two-time survivor Kathy McDonald of Clarks Summit.

The Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure is a nearly 30-year tradition in downtown Scranton: 29 years to be exact. In the last 29 years, it has become the city's largest 5K.

"The ambiance of everything is so moving and inspiring. The course is fast. It's a fast, flat course. Everywhere there was a little hill, there were people pumping you up, cheerleaders, pep squads, survivors, friends of people that lost someone to cancer. It was amazing," first-place female finisher, Tiffany Leventhal of Honesdale said.

The annual Race for the Cure event is all about the fundraising efforts leading up to the big day, but the most important part is what happens after the race.

"That's when the hard work begins and continues all year long. Some people think we stop after race day. That's really when we roll up our sleeves even more so," explained Ruth Modzelewski, the Mission Coordinator for the Susan G. Komen Greater PA chapter. "It is our mission to reduce breast cancer deaths by 50% by the year 2023."

Modzelewski is a survivor herself.

Of all the funds raised through Race for the Cure, 75% stays right here in the community and supports breast cancer education, screening, and treatment initiatives, while the remaining 25% of all funds raised supports Susan G. Komen's National Research Program.

Some walk the 5K in small groups.

"I'm racing for my mom because she had cancer, and this is my second time doing it with her," said 8-year-old Zachary Heckman.

Others walk on much larger teams.

"We're here to support our warrior Colleen Jacques. She's one of our employees. She's fighting the battle, and we're here to support her, so we have 163 people," Paul Cavaliere of Dunmore said. He and his coworkers with Lockheed Martin had one of the largest teams at the race.

Then there are the runners, truly racing for a cure.

"Very vibrant, a lot of supporters out here today. It's always good to run a race when there's a lot of people there. Definitely a good cause, too, so it was nice to be a part of it," said first-place finisher, Ben Evans of Clarks Summit.

With another year coming to an end, fighters, survivors, and supporters say they cannot wait to see what is to come for year 30.