Thousands Race For The Cure In Scranton
SCRANTON — The countdown from 10 started a little after 8:30 a.m.
At one, a horn blared and 2,500 people dressed in blue, black, white and, of course, pink, took off as the 28th annual Susan G. Komen NEPA Race for the Cure began.
Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believin’” thundered from loudspeakers. For many in Saturday’s crowd of runners and walkers, it’s more than a song lyric.
Every year, the 5K race aims to raise tens of thousands of dollars for cancer research and other assistance for Northeast Pennsylvania residents. Of the money the group raises, 25 percent is earmarked for cancer research while the remaining 75 percent funds cancer screenings, education and treatment in Northeast Pennsylvania.
“You are making a difference,” Dolly Woody, director of Susan G. Komen Greater Pennsylvania, intoned into a microphone.
That difference is made through support. Angie Mancie, of Dunmore, knows that all too well.
As the runners and walkers took off on Wyoming Avenue, Mancie took a seat on the steps of the federal courthouse. This is her first year back at the 5k race since 2014. That was the first year she had a clean bill of health. A five-year cancer survivor, the 84-year-old Dunmore woman said you need all the support you can get.
“Keep a positive attitude,” Mancie said. “And you have to be open about it.”
The runners took off up Wyoming Avenue toward Green Ridge Street and then back to Courthouse Square along North Washington Avenue before ending at Adams Avenue alongside the Backyard Ale House. Walkers followed the same path but stayed on North Washington Avenue instead of diverting to Adams Avenue.
Caitlyn Gaughan, 32, of Dalton, finished first among women with a time of 18 minutes and 44 seconds. Devin Smith, 20, of Carbondale, had the top time for men at 17 minutes and 42 seconds.
The combination of hills and muggy weather made for a fairly challenging run, said coworkers Kellie Bates, of Mountain Top, and Margie Kane, of Ashley.
Each ran in support of family members and other coworkers battling cancer. Kane said the atmosphere among the athletes was upbeat but, in a way, still tinged with sadness because what unifies them is a shared tragedy.
Pink balloons dotted the downtown. Messages of support were inscribed along the sides of businesses. At the Lackawanna County Prison, which was along the race route, signs crafted by female inmates shouted encouragement. “I Fought Like a Girl and Won,” read one.
For Mary Ellen Pajor, the race is about memorializing what women like her friends of more than 60 years, Barbara Jean Jones and Joy Daniels, went through. Jones, of Taylor, is a 16-year-old breast cancer survivor. Daniels has had a clean bill of health for nearly three years. Walking in the race has become a yearly tradition for the trio.
“I vowed I would do this as long as I was physically able,” Jones said.
The race Saturday marks the first one in the city since the Scranton-based charity merged with Susan G. Komen Pittsburgh, forming a unified Susan G. Komen Greater Pennsylvania. Pittsburgh’s race occurs in May.
The merger brought 53 of the state’s 67 counties into a single service area. Collectively, the two charities have awarded $24.5 million in local grants to women in need and $10 million to national breast care research programs.
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