5K event at fairgrounds to support all cancers

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5K event at fairgrounds to support all cancers

A week after Melissa Eaton, of Sparta, came home from Florida where her aunt, Karen Gormley, had suddenly died from lung cancer in February of this year, she lay in bed crying, wondering how she and her family could cope with their loss.

Familiar with 5K runs, having run in them herself, Eaton was inspired to hold one of her own and decided to call all the right people, including race director Andy Ball and, upon setting up the organization Heart in Hand Events Inc., they got the ball rolling.

That was when the first “All Cancers Suck 5K Color Run/Walk,” which will be dedicated in memory of Gormley, came together.

“My family was hurting and it was breaking my heart seeing them so distraught, so I wanted to do something fun,” Eaton said. “Something where people can support their loved ones but have fun doing it.”

The event will take place on Saturday at the Sussex County Fairgrounds in Frankford, where participants will run or walk a 5K, or 3.1- mile loop, and will have the option of running through a spray of four different colors — blue, pink, yellow, and green — of non-toxic food-based colored flour set up at stations along the course.

The variety of colors represent the logo for all cancers, which is a mix of rainbow colors, so participants can run in support of whatever cancer has touched them the most and will also bring awareness that all cancers need attention.

With the initial launch of the event, Eaton said she would “be lucky if maybe 200 people signed up,” but to her surprise sign-ups have taken off and, as of Wednesday afternoon, 781 people have registered.

Saturday’s event will begin with warm-ups and a dedication to the Gormley family and following, participants will stand at attention as the New Jersey State Fair/ Sussex County Farm and Horse Show’s 2016 Queen of the Fair Kelly Wask will sing the National Anthem before the start of the run, which is scheduled for 9 a.m.

According to both Gormley and Eaton, the weather is shaping up to be nice, but in case of extreme heat, there will be water misting stations, water stations provided by Culligan and cold rags soaked in ice water.

Entertainment will be provided by band Rated R and there will be food provided, including bags of Froot Loops, representing the colors of the symbols of cancer, bagels, oranges, and bananas.

Ball said the course has been certified as five kilometers long and the run will be timed, with awards given to a variety of groups based off of age and gender.

All proceeds from the event will benefit Regional Cancer Care Associates in Sparta.

Erma Gormley, mother of Karen Gormley and former Sussex County clerk, said that the family will have their own team called Team Karen.

“For those of us that might not be able to run, we will help with registration or throwing colors,” Gormley said.

Amazed at how many people have already signed up for the run, Gormley said she is “thrilled” that the run will be in honor of her late daughter.

“Cancer touches so many people, so this is such a wonderful way to honor my daughter’s memory and to help someone else,” she said.

According to Gormley, her daughter was told she was in remission from lung cancer before she passed away at the age of 54.

Registration continues online through midnight Friday and same-day participants can register from 7:30 until 8:45 a.m. on race day. Donations will also be accepted.

Registration costs $30 per person and for those forming a team of five or more, each person registered will receive a $5 discount. Students under the age of 18 pay $15.

For more information on the event or to register online, visit www.allcancerssuck.org or call Andy Ball at 973-222-8748.

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