Fighting for a cure

MONROE – Firefighters throughout the area are joining forces for the third year in a row to fight breast cancer through the Firefighters for the Cure 5K.

(Above) Participants in a past Firefighters for the Cure 5K event wave to the camera while raising money in the fight against cancer. This year’s event is Oct. 12.

(Above) Participants in a past Firefighters for the Cure 5K event wave to the camera while raising money in the fight against cancer. This year’s event is Oct. 12.

The third annual event takes place Oct. 12, a Saturday, in downtown Monroe. Registration, which costs $25 and includes a T-shirt, starts at 7 a.m., with the race kicking off at 9 a.m. Local vendors will be on hand selling food and drinks during the race.

The Firefighters for the Cure 5K was conceived in 2010 when about 25 firefighters banded together to run in a Charlotte-area race raising money to fight breast cancer. The following year, as the firefighters discussed participating in the annual race again, it was suggested they organize their own event.

“We thought we would give it a shot and did our first (5K) in 2011,” said Windi Henderson, vice president of Union County-based nonprofit Firefighters for the Cure. “We had about 125 runners.”

All participants who ran in the first 5K were firefighters, according to Firefighters for the Cure President Boyce Adams. In 2012, about 75 percent of all runners were firefighters, with the remaining 25 percent being people from the community who simply showed up to support a cause.

So far this year, Adams has seen a significant increase in interest from individuals throughout the community.

“As far as growth, every year we’re doubling the amount of people who come to the race,” Adams said, adding at least 125 people have already registered for the 5K. “We’re expecting about (500 to 600) people this year.”

All of the money raised from the event goes to Firefighters for the Cure, an all-volunteer organization run by local firefighters dedicated to supporting individuals fighting cancer. Adams and other leaders ensure all of the money raised benefits local residents.

The race, which takes place annually during the second week in October, raises money specifically for breast cancer related services, such as free mammograms for women without insurance.

“The thing that’s (great) about this year’s race is we’re going to fund 40 mammograms,” Adams said.

While the October race always centers on breast cancer, Firefighters for the Cure hosts other events during the year to raise money for individuals fighting other types of cancer. Fundraisers include a softball tournament in the spring, an annual golf tournament, T-shirt sales and more. Firefighters for the Cure works with the Carolinas Medical Center-Union’s Edwards Cancer Center, Charlotte Radiology and other local organizations to benefit area residents through these fundraisers, as well.

Fighting cancer and helping others battling the disease is important to Adams and his colleagues. After losing fellow firefighters to cancer over the years, as well as his own mom to breast cancer two years ago, Adams and his comrades have made it their mission to rally against the disease.

“We hate all cancer; we don’t discriminate,” he said.

Another goal of Firefighters for the Cure is to promote education among the community, Adams said, in order to raise awareness and encourage early detection.

“There are many different ways to test for cancer,” he said. “The No. 1 thing that helps fight cancer is to come together and fellowship with a group of people fighting cancer … We want to be able to help (fight) every kind of cancer.”

Find more information about the Firefighters for the Cure and the 5K at www.firefightersforthecure.com.

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