Color-splashed runners raise funds for cancer care

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Color-splashed runners raise funds for cancer care

More than 1,000 participants were dressed in all white, ready to get covered with colored powder during the inaugural “All Cancers Suck 5K Color Run/Walk” at the Sussex County Fairgrounds on Saturday.

The race was the brainchild of Melissa Eaton, who came up with the idea after the death of her aunt, Karen Gormley, from lung cancer in February.

Eaton, on Saturday, said she expected to raise about $30,000 for the Regional Cancer Care Associates in Sparta, which is well more than she ever anticipated.

“I said at the beginning I was hoping to raise $2,000,” she said, adding the fact that more than 1,000 participated Saturday was wonderful.

Once the race got under way, runners had the option to run through color stations where they could have colored powder thrown at them. The blue, pink, yellow and green stations represented the logos for various cancers.

Many runners then would stop and take pictures of themselves and friends covered from head to toe in color.

“We’re all smiles, ear-to-ear,” Eaton said once the runners got on their way. “It’s special that all these people come out to show their support for loved ones and raise awareness.

As the runners prepared for the races, preceded by 2016 Queen of the Fair Kelly Wask singing the national anthem, some said they were racing for loved ones and friends who battled cancer.

“We have loved ones we lost and some who have battled cancer and won,” said Lisa Yuksel, of Lafayette, who was running with her friends from CKO Kick Boxing, in Sussex.

“It’s just an awesome cause,” added her friend Suzanne Garrera, of Stillwater.

Stephanie Virga, of Wantage, said she and her sister-in-law, Michaela Virga, of Hampton, decided to participate in the race to honor her mother-in-law, Lorraine Virga, who is winning her battle with cancer.

“It’s also about all survivors and fighters,” Stephanie Virga said, adding the event was a good way to raise awareness and funds for cancer research.

Bill Welsh, 87, of Staten Island, N.Y., made the trip to Sussex County to run in the race.

Though he does two races each weekend — one on Saturdays and one on Sundays — Welsh said Saturday’s race had a special meaning to him since he has been fighting cancer for the last seven years.

“It’s a great way to raise awareness,” Welsh said.

Joe Carlson also can be contacted on Twitter: @JoeCarlsonNJH or by phone: 973-383-1292.

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