Race for the Cure, Grand Lake style
Grand Lake, CO Colorado
GRAND LAKE – It began six years ago with six women.
“We pulled it off two weeks before,” race organizer Lauren Gompertz remembers, “and we were hoping to have 50 people.”
But twice that number showed up to the streets of Grand Lake, accessorized in pink, ready to walk and run for the cure.
They all registered under “Team Grand Lake” as part of the Denver Komen Race for the Cure.
Instead of fighting the crowds at the 80,000 people-strong event in Denver, they enjoyed the turning of aspen leaves, the crisp autumn mountain air and the closeness of the community right at home in Grand Lake, charting a course on some of the town’s gravel roads.
Now, six years later, that same event has multiplied to an estimated 300 people and has raised an estimated $100,000, according to Gompertz.
The Grand Lake race has since been sanctioned by the Komen organization as a legitimate branch of the Denver event, she said.
Gompertz herself is an eight-year breast cancer survivor.
Detected by a mammogram, her cancer was diagnosed in 2003. She underwent chemotherapy, surgery and radiation treatment at the Shaw Regional Cancer Center in Edwards, five days a week for seven weeks to fight the disease.
“My girlfriends drove me every single day,” she said.
“It’s shocking,” she said of a diagnosis. “But it’s never as bad as you think it is. You get through it. Your hair grows back. Everything is OK.”
And to this day, she swears by the discovery through routine mammograms. Recently a friend of Lauren’s learned she had very early signs of breast cancer, detected during a routine mammogram at the Middle Park Medical Center, Kremmling. Thanks to the money being raised through events such as the Komen walk, treatments have improved since her own time with cancer, Gompertz said, and within a month her friend could put the scare of cancer behind her.
“Everybody knows someone, if not themselves, who has been inflicted with breast cancer,” said fellow race organizer Laura Summers, of Grand Lake. “It’s so important that people participate in life and help out with this.”
The 5K Grand Lake Komen walk starts on Grand Lake’s Hancock Street near St. Anne’s Church, continues to Park Avenue, then makes its way to Cairns, to “Rainbow” Bridge across the channel, then returns to make its way back to the finish on Lake Avenue. The start and finish of the 5K are set to live music by local musicians.
A fundraising auction rounds out the event at Grand Lake’s Pancho and Lefty’s.
“Think about not just yourself, think about others – Christmas presents,” Summers said. “That way you can help someone out and do your holiday shopping all at the same time.”
And for those who may be out of town on race day, Summers suggests signing up through Team Grand Lake anyway and walking wherever one happens to be.
After all, part of the benefit of the cancer walk is striving to be “heart healthy,” Summers said, since studies have proven “if you have less pounds, your chances for breast cancer decrease.”
“It’s a wonderful day for everyone to celebrate. It is all of us together who will make a difference for finding a cure for cancer,” said race chair Gladys Howard.
And, “It’s a good time to remember all our loved ones who didn’t make it,” Gompertz said.
Tonya Bina can be reached at 970-887-3334 ext. 19603
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