Every Mother's Day for the last sixteen years, hundreds of people gather at Legacy Village to participate in "The Race."
The family-friendly foot race was the idea of two kids who wanted to do help a friend's mom, diagnosed with breast cancer.
Then the cancer hit home.
It all started with 10-year-old Josh and his 12-year-old sister, Dani. Two kids who just wanted to empower others.
“They decided let's have a race, let's do something where the kids help organize it, the kids have a voice, the kids can say ‘hey mom get a mammogram’ and raise money and feel like they're making a difference,” says Mom, Patti Berns.
The first year had about three hundred people but they raised about $25,000. But just before the second year, the battle against breast cancer hit home.
“Just before year two of the race, I was diagnosed with breast cancer so from that point on it took on a whole new meaning and we said we're going to continue this,” Patti says.
It became a family event with Patti and husband Jonathan, Josh and Dani and the youngest Berns baby, Abby, who was about a year old when it all started.
The family worked with friends and families, school programs and hospital programs to keep it going. Each year, honoring a survivor.
May in Northeast Ohio is never predictable, but kids and their families showed up in rain, snow, sleet and sunshine to raise money for a cause and start Mother’s Day off, with a run.
Josh and Dani are grown up and in careers of their own, so little sister Abby, who’s now a junior in high school has taken over.
“This really does have a more significant meaning to me knowing that I'm fighting for my own future and the futures of others,” Abby says.
She hopes to make it to medical school and become a doctor, and perhaps one day find herself doing research, but hopes the cure for breast cancer will already have been found.
This year, money raised from ‘The Race’ will be donated to the Case Comprehensive Cancer Center. A collaborative lab that pulls the research from University Hospitals Cleveland Medical Center, Cleveland Clinic, MetroHealth and the Louis Stokes VA center together in one place.
Dr. Ruth Keri runs a section of the lab where breast cancer research is taking place. And research is expensive, which is why funds from events like ‘The Race’ are critical to help get projects off the ground.
Dr. Keri says there’s only about eight percent of federal dollars available for cancer research, and centers around the country have to compete for funding. So they need “seed” money to start the research that will get the attention of the National Cancer Institute to grant them funds to continue.
“I'm actually writing a pilot right now for a project that we just need to do a few experiments to try to see is this the right direction to go and these kinds of funds support those activities,” Dr. Keri says.
Patti adds every advancement starts with an experiment.
“If they can turn that into a million dollars worth of research we can really do something in finding a cure for breast cancer,” she says.
That’s also why they hope people will show up at Legacy Village this Sunday morning. Registration begins at 7:30 AM. The 5K starts at 8:30 AM and the 1 mile run is at 9:30 AM.
Abby makes the best point, “we never know which dollar is going to be the dollar that cures breast cancer.”