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'It gives us hope': Celebrating the successes of survivors, and the lives of those lost

Thousands came together for the 29th Susan G. Komen Northwest Ohio Race for the Cure.

TOLEDO, Ohio — Thousands of people gathered in downtown Toledo to join in the fight against breast cancer on Sunday morning. The 29th Susan G. Komen Northwest Ohio Race for the Cure drew volunteers, healthcare providers, supporters and survivors.

For many the race is a celebration, whether than means celebrating a hard-fought battle, or celebrating the life of a loved one who lost theirs. 

The 5K race itself started at 9:30 Sunday morning, while the one-mile walk began 15 minutes later. However, the morning of celebration started long before the race. 

Outside of Fifth-Third Field, Mercy Health’s Mobile Mammography unit — dubbed the ‘Mamm Van’ — provided people with convenient access to mammograms. Across the way, survivors lined Hensville at Hope Village. 

Honorary race chair Chrys Peterson spoke directly to those survivors, letting them know that today was a day for them.

“I know [the cure] is coming, I’m hopeful, and it’s events like this funding the research,” she said.  

Among the people celebrated today was Monica Riley. Every year, Susan G. Komen chooses a survivor to honor in celebration at the race. This year the race was in celebration of Riley. She has been cancer-free for seven years now. 

At Hope Village, Riley had a message to other survivors that brought tears to some in the crowd: “Keep the faith … and fight like the warrior you are.”

There were plenty of people in downtown Toledo this morning who have done just what Riley’s message encouraged.

That includes a pair of sisters, turned pair of survivors. Barbara Hutson and Rose Klapp are sisters who know the battle against cancer all too well. 

“We’re still hanging on, we’re surviving,” Klapp said. 

Hutson is a 16-year survivor and Klapp has four years under her belt. They’ve been coming to Race for the Cure in Toledo throughout both of their battles.  

“I actually remember my first race was when [Hutson was] diagnosed,” Klapp said. Klapp was joined by her daughter, who said she was walking for her mom. 

For Hutson, the race is about continuing to fight breast cancer, so that one day it can truly be beaten. Finding the cure for not just breast cancer, but all types of cancer, means a lot to her.

“It means everything to me. Hopefully they one day find the cure for cancer. We just lost our mother in May to brain cancer,” she said. “She was diagnosed in February and she died in May. We had her for a very short amount of time.”

The Race for the Cure is a family affair. Like Hutson and Klapp, Robin Coleman and Dana Todd are sisters, and survivors, too. WTOL spoke with the pair after they crossed the finish line, pink carnations in hand. 

“It’s awesome. It’s a great feeling of camaraderieship with fellow survivors,” Todd said. “It makes you feel kind of special.” She’s a 15-year survivor, her sister — a seven-year survivor.

“It’s kind of emotional,” Coleman said. “I just like being around so many other survivors, and seeing 20 and 30 years — it gives us hope.” 

Survivors at this year’s race had as much as six months to 41 years under their belt in their fight against cancer. 

The race doesn’t just see survivors every year. Supporters lined downtown Toledo’s streets earlier this morning — and that included some new faces. 

Donning shirts that said “halfway to another win,” Kimalon Dixon and Nichelle Mays told WTOL 11 that they came to the race to support their friend, a survivor who is halfway in her battle to fully defeating cancer. It’s their first year at Race for the Cure — and they came all the way from Cleveland for it. 

Mike Karmol is another supporter who showed up this morning. This year’s race is in memory of his wife, Agnes. She died of metastatic breast cancer last year. For those helping their loved ones in their fight against breast cancer, he simply said: “Stand by their side and listen to them.”

Mike donated $4,500 to Susan G. Komen recently — $100 for every year that he and Agnes were married. 

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