Twenty Faces of Komen Columbus: Week 15

Since this May 19, 2012 will be the 20th Annual Komen Columbus Race for the Cure, for the 20 weeks leading up to the event we are  going to spotlight 20 individuals who have participated in the Race throughout the years. They come from all walks of life and may be survivors, volunteers, grantees, sponsors or advocates, but they’re all committed to the fight against breast cancer.

Week 15: The One Who Embraces Hope and Fights with Courage
Guest Post by: Bethany Bebech

Rita Welsh’s first Race for the Cure was in 1997, or maybe even earlier than that. She says “I’ve been involved for so many years it’s hard to remember.”  When she first started with the race, there were about 300 participants, which was a HUGE deal, but now the 50,000 participants of last year is truly amazing.

Rita was diagnosed with breast cancer in late May 2008, 2 weeks after that year’s Race for the Cure.

Rita and her son Kyle walking through the Survivor Chute
Rita and her son Kyle walking through the Survivor Chute

“Cancer puts your life into perspective. To be there participating means I am still alive and that is worth everything. Even though I have metastasis breast cancer now, I still try not to let cancer rule what I do though it’s more difficult. You appreciate every single day and every single race.”The 2009 Race for the Cure was the most memorable for Rita. It was her first race after her diagnosis and treatment. She realized it was MORE than just another race/walk, but helping thousands of women. “You appreciate all the people who turn out to participate. They are taking time out of their free day to help the cause and raise money and show support” Rita said. It was also the first time Rita walked through the Survivors Chute. “I never thought it would be me and the emotion was overwhelming. You are part of an incredible sisterhood. You ARE a Survivor.”

She says that as a survivor, “the Race is definitely more emotional and you get inspiration from the women who refuse to let cancer run their life. They are there with scarves, riding the trolley, walking and some are even running. It brings so much into perspective on life and what is truly important.”

Rita is an employee at Abbott, which has been sponsoring Race for the Cure Teams in Columbus since the early 1990s. Rita has served as Team Captain for many of those years. She hopes to recruit 500 members for this year’s team, but would love to reach the 1,000 mark someday (but all in due time!).

“I cannot even begin to tell you how wonderful it is to have the support [of Abbott]. People at this company care and want to make an impact. We are a large part of the Columbus community and our products help cancer patients (including me).”

Join Rita and the rest of the Abbott team at the Race on May19th by registering here. Look for her proudly donning her pink survivor’s shirt!