Last fall, a group of 10 girlfriends got together for a simple run in the Waverly countryside. They ran to honor their strong bond, their health and the memory of one of their mothers, Denise Wright. Wright represented to them what it truly means to be a wife, a mother and a friend. Throughout her long battle with cancer, she was flanked by her girlfriends. They went to appointments with her. They sat with her in bed, drank wine and laughed. They kept her going like any good girlfriend should. Then when they had to, they served as her pallbearers. Their devotion made a lasting impression on the group. This year they decided to grow their ranks at the 2nd Annual Friends Keep Us Going 5K Run/Walk, Oct. 27 in Waverly. The event was held in Wright's memory and was open to all who wished to honor the true spirit of friendship.
There were 10 women on the race committee, friends for more than 20 years. Some had been known each other since their days at Our Lady of Peace School and the others met at Scranton Prep.
I read a quote recently that said, ‘Friendship isn't a big thing. It is a million little things,' Leah Kane, one of the race organizers said. We truly did ‘a million little things' over the past six months and the result was an incredible tribute to Denise's memory and the true spirit of friendship. I have always been proud of our friendship, but seeing each of us step into roles and out of comfort zones as we worked together was really cool.
Kane added, Likewise, Denise had her flock of friends. She called them, ‘The Force.' It has been fun getting to know them and seeing ourselves in each other.
Preliminary figures indicate that the race raised between $25,000 and $30,000 for the Foundation for Cancer Care.
We are all incredibly humbled by and thrilled with this result, Kane said. Especially considering that when we started planning back in May, we were asking ourselves, ‘Do you think we can get 50 people there?'
As President of the Foundation for Cancer Care, I am absolutely blown away by the efforts of the ‘Friends', Margo Opsasnick said. This is an amazing group of women. The best thing of all is that the proceeds will all go to support women diagnosed with cancer and their families.
Our mission at the Foundation for Cancer Care is to offer support to cancer patients and their families from diagnosis through survivorship by providing financial, therapeutic and educational assistance. This phenomenal effort will allow us to serve many women in many different ways. It is quite fitting that Denise's memory will continue to support cancer patients through the efforts of friends.
I would like to see all or some of these funds earmarked for a specific program bearing Denise's name. There are a number of areas where these funds can be used; for instance, to promote breast cancer screenings, to allow women with no insurance to have genetic testing and counseling or therapeutic assistance such as psychological counseling, nutritional counseling or complimentary services such as massage therapy.
Denise's husband, Joseph Wright, commented on the bond between his wife and her friends. As you can see, Denise had such a strong bond with a group of friends who had given her tremendous strength and comfort during her seven- year struggle with breast cancer. When talking with several of the participants at the race who are facing similar challenges, it became apparent to me that the role of friendship in challenging times is something just about all of us can strive to give and hope to receive at different times of our lives. This event tried to recognize the qualities of friendship.
The race committee offered special thanks to:
The Waverly Community House and Waverly Township, Waverly Township Police, Dalton Fire Company and Community Life Support for providing a beautiful and safe setting for the race.
Matt Rosetti, Matt Byrne and the team at Scranton Running Co. for sourcing race shirts and bestowing gift cards to race winners.
Ashlee Thomas, Assistant Director of My Gym Scranton, for leading activities for children .
Joe Nardone and SoundParty for the great tunes to get our feet moving.
118 race day registrations
359 total registrations
More than 50 local business sponsors
Top Male Finisher, Sengei Bilardi, 17, 19:49
Top Female Finisher, Aimee LeStrange, 30, 20:07
Top Walker - Lynn Harrison, 56, 36:58
Deegan Ross, 7, won the 12 and under category with a time of 24:15, finishing 7 seconds before the Mayor of Scranton, Chris Doherty.