MIDDLEBURY — “It amazes me because it was so rainy and so gross and these people still came out,” said Nean Smith, founder of the Middlebury Walks for a Cure breast cancer walk.
The 5K walk/run on Sunday raised money to pay for mammograms at The Retreat Women’s Health Center of Indiana University Health Goshen and for patient care provided by United Cancer Services of Elkhart County.
“This is the second year we’ve come,” said Kim Schrock, who walked with her friend, Carrie Weaver. “My cousin asked us to do it last year, and we have both have friends and family that are survivors, and we work at Elkhart Hospital.”
Many came to run or walk in memory or in honor of someone who has battled breast cancer.
“My aunt and my husband’s mother had breast cancer,” said Debbie Johnston. She, her husband, Jeff, and four other family members came for the walk.
The keynote speaker was Traci Runge of Carmel. In 2007, she donated her healthy breast tissue to the Komen Tissue Bank at IU Simon Cancer Center in Indianapolis in honor of a friend who was battling breast cancer. Three years later, Runge herself was diagnosed. Runge donated her cancerous tissue to the tissue bank before she began treatment, giving the tissue bank its first sample of healthy and cancerous tissue from the same donor.
“They told me that my tissue might be a key to a cure,” said Runge. “I did it for my daughters. I didn’t realize the impact it would make. Anyone can make a difference.”
In 2011, Runge was asked to share her story during the Super Bowl and helped the tissue bank raise $1.6 million.
“I’m from Ligonier,” said Runge. “If I lived here, this is where I would be seeking treatment. ... It’s an honor to give back to the community I was raised in.”