By Katie Mills Giorgio

Since its inception, the Especially for You race has been a community effort.

The 5K run/walk event takes place each fall in Cedar Rapids, starting near Mercy Medical Center. All funds raised go to support the Especially for You fund, which was originally set up to assist those living in and around Cedar Rapids who could not afford to pay for breast care services, including mammograms and procedures like molecular breast imaging (MBI).

“We are proud that it’s all locally run here in Cedar Rapids,” said Michelle Cole, Especially for You race director.

In the last two years alone, Especially for You was able to provide 1,282 individuals in need with access to 1,844 services.

The Especially for You Race Against Breast Cancer began in 1991. It was founded by Mercy Medical Center and General Mills, and is dedicated to the memory of Sandy Knight, a woman who lost her fight against breast cancer in July of that year. Ms. Knight worked at General Mills and was a charter member of the Especially for You Support Group, for women going through breast cancer treatments.

“It was her wish that a fund be established to cover the cost of mammograms for disadvantaged women,” said Ms. Cole. “They also wanted to get the word out about early detection.”

Mercy Hospital and General Mills have partnered every year since to present the event. “It’s been a fantastic collaboration and effort,” said Ms. Cole. “Really, the whole community has been so supportive.”

“I think people really appreciate that all the funds we raise are used to help people they know – friends, co-workers and neighbors,” she added.

Ms. Cole said the most moving part of the event each year is the gathering of all the breast cancer survivors who have registered for the race. Each woman is given a pink scarf and the group poses for a survivor photo.

Especially for You race participants can run or walk in memory of someone who lost their battle with breast cancer. They also have registrants who are currently going through treatment.

Since the first race, in which 1,078 women participated, the event has grown tremendously. In 2013, some 15,105 registered participants, including men, women and children of all ages, took to the streets in support of fighting breast cancer.

“It’s truly phenomenal,” Ms. Cole said. “People can walk or run or just come down and cheer people on. We have something for everyone.”

The 24th annual race will take place Oct. 5. This year’s event will feature a whole new race route, taking participants through the Oakhilll Jackson neighborhood, the NewBo area, Czech Village and back downtown, and will include a party in Greene Square Park after the race.

 

TIMES ON LIST:

1 Time Best Walk/Run Event (new category)