The unseasonably warm day didn’t melt the spirits of over 5000 participants in the first Susan G. Komen Israel Race for the Cure which took place on Thursday, October 28. The Race for the Cure occurs in over 40 countries around the world, but this was the first time it took place in Israel, bringing people to Jerusalem from Israel and abroad. The race was sponsored by the City of Jerusalem, Hadassah, the Women’s International Zionist Organization, and other health advocacy organizations. The walls of the Old City and the Shrine of the Book at the Israel Museum were lit up in pink for the week of special events organized around the Race for the Cure.
I had the pleasure of being a member of the AACI team, led by captain, Judy Ann Cohen. I first heard about the event from the AACI bi-monthly e-newsletter back in early September and the notice gave me the incentive to sign up. Judy was very helpful in providing information about registration and logistics for the day of the race.
After arriving at Gan Sacher and picking up a special white T-shirt for the walk, I found my way to the AACI meeting spot in one of the many open-sided tents where I met other AACI volunteers and professional staff members. The park filled up with people in white t-shirts for the race. Scattered among the white from time to time was a woman – or a man – in a pink shirt, indicating that she was a breast cancer survivor. Many participants attached a sign to their shirt with names of family members or friends who succumbed to the disease, giving us the motivation to truly race for a cure.
Under a colorful arch of pink and white balloons at the beginning of Bezalel Street, a stage was set up where we heard greetings from Jerusalem mayor Nir Barkat, U.S. Senator Joseph I. Leiberman, Susan Goodman Komen’s, sister, Ambassador Nancy Goodman Brinker who serves as the Global Goodwilll Ambassador to the U.N.’s World Health Organization, and Hadassah International President Nancy Falchuk. It was an amazing site walking up Bezalel Street and being surrounded by thousands of other participants as we began the 3.8 kilometer walk. The diversity of the group of walkers was very impressive: men, women, children, teenagers, students, religious, traditional, secular, Jews, Christians, Druze and Israeli Arabs. It was a solemn reminder that breast cancer knows no boundaries or religious affiliation. It directly affects us all and we are united in our fight to find a cure. This is truly a global movement.
As we passed by the Gerard Bechar auditorium, loudspeakers blared the song “I Will Survive!” certainly something we pray for those with breast cancer. We continued on to King George St., down Agron St., crossed King David St., continued past Mamilla and the David Citadel Hotel, walked up by the walls of the Old City, ending at Gai Ben Hinom below the Jerusalem Cinemateque. Youth volunteers passed out cups and bottles of water along the way, which was certainly most appreciated in the hamsin.
Crossing the finish line gave me a sense of accomplishment–not because of completing the 3.8 kilometers, but rather because of the huge team effort of which we were a part in order to advance research to find a cure for breast cancer and promote outreach programs. Over 30 AACI’ers from around the country, along with thousands of participants, also contributed by securing donations from family and acquaintances who sponsored them to help this cause. Funds from the Israel Race for the Cure will go towards breast cancer programs in Israel and to Susan G. Komen outreach programs around the world that promote education and screening for early detection of the disease.
Unfortunately, this race really didn’t have a finish line because we’re not finished. It was a walk to make a difference, but we all need to continue to race for a cure.