A run to raise money and awareness for the Salt River Cancer Support Group was rained out on January 26. The New Year’s Road Race featured a 13K, 2-mile run/walk and a 1-mile youth run. Despite the weather, the 1- and 2-mile events still were held for anyone who didn’t mind getting a little wet; the 13K, however, was postponed until March due to the muddy trails.
Michelle Long, a physical fitness specialist for the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community, was one of the Diabetes Program members who worked with Community Health Representative Deborah Robinson and Community Health Registered Nurse Shawna Harrison from the Cancer Support Group to host the event, which raises funds that go to help cancer patients, survivors, and family members of patients and survivors.
The Cancer Support Group was formed in January 2007 by then Registered Nurse and Certified Diabetes Educator, Cindy Bochenski. Bochenski needed an extra person to help her with the group and for Robinson, it hit a soft spot.
“For me personally, there is a lot of cancer in my family,” Robinson said. “I think a special place where people can come, share their thoughts and feelings and get emotional support is important. Everyone gets the opportunity to exchange phone numbers in the event that they ever want to talk to someone who is experiencing similar circumstances and that means a lot to them.”
This is the fifth year the race has been held and organizers are starting to see an uptick in registration.
“The participation has increased,” Long said. “People are starting to know what the race is for and who they are helping. They may have had a family member who was just diagnosed or [they may have] lost someone because of cancer.”
Long and others have been organizing Community races for a long time, recently adding their events to social-media sites like Facebook and getting the word out to other media outlets outside the Community.
While there are cardiovascular benefits to running, Long explained that there are also social benefits.
“Sometimes if you see other people doing things like running in races, it motivates you to get out and do it too. For us, in our Community, running was part of our ancestors’ way of life, so it’s nice to try and bring that back.”
Long stressed that they try to put something on for the Community once a month, and they usually have an event for all age groups. To get warmed up for the race, she encourages everyone to come down to the Fitness Center and cross-train with the free classes that are provided to Community members and SRPMIC and Enterprise employees.