Week Sixteen: Twenty Faces of Komen Columbus

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 16: The One Who Volunteers to Make a Difference
Guest Post by: Renschke Christains

The Race for the Cure would not exist without the help of amazing volunteers. So many of us are compelled to assist and run this race for those we have lost, or those who are still fighting their battle with breast cancer. Bev Bailey decided to get involved after she lost her sister to the disease. Fifteen years later, her dedication and motivation to find the cures for breast cancer have not wavered. She chaired the Race registration committee for many years and currently serves on the education committee, leading our speakers bureau and training other volunteers who speak on Komen’s behalf.

In addition, Bev is also our April Volunteer of the Month.

Bev has been a vital member of the Komen Columbus community for years and here is her story, in her own words.

“My grandmother lost her fight with breast cancer when I was young, at a time when the words ‘breast cancer’ were NEVER said, and long before there was a Susan G. Komen for the Cure.

My sister was diagnosed with Inflammatory Breast Cancer in June of 1997. Six months later, she lost the fight. Without the support of her best friend, Susan Brown, I would never have known about the race. Susan, a breast cancer survivor herself, was a part of the Komen affiliate in Columbus and encouraged me to channel my grief and anger into something positive and get involved.

I’ve never run or walked a race. I’ve always volunteered. My first race was 1998 as a road marshal. I was a little overwhelmed, very emotional and had no idea what to expect. I certainly didn’t expect the outpouring of support from total strangers! I’ll never forget the man who helped me with an “in memory of” sign for the back of my shirt. I’ll never forget the people who hugged me and most of all, I’ll never forget seeing the pink-shirted survivor participants going by and wishing that my sister could be one of them.

After my experience with the race, I decided it wasn’t enough. I began to get involved year-round with Komen. It has been an amazing experience to be doing something positive in the fight against breast cancer for the last 15 years. I have received so much more than I’ve given through friendships and support; being a part of the Komen organization has become an essential part of my world.

Every one of the 14 races I’ve been a part of has a moment that stays in my memory like a snapshot in a photo album, whether I’ve worked as a road marshal, at the finish line or in registration. One of my favorite memories is the gentleman who I registered for the race soon after a stroke he had. His friend had been diagnosed with breast cancer. We chatted while he registered; he told me about his physical challenges and said, ‘If she can fight for her life, I can run the race.’ I got the biggest hug from him when he passed the corner where I was road marshalling that year and I’ve never seen a bigger smile.

I’ve watched the race grow exponentially over the last 14 years. Many things have changed, not least of which is the sign on my back that now includes not only the memorial to my grandmother and sister, but the celebration of a wonderful list of friends.

This year, as always, I look forward to the race so I can celebrate my friends who will be proudly wearing their pink shirts. I look forward to honoring my grandmother and sister. I look forward to reading the team t-shirts and seeing the community coming out to support our mission. I look forward the most to the funds that we raise, knowing the community programs that we will be able to support and the people we will be able to help as a result of the race.

A few things remain the same. I still wonder at the sense of hope in the air. I am still in awe of the community support and participation in the race. I still feel the incredible boost of energy that the race seems to bring, and the rededication to the Komen mission that I always feel. I’m still thrilled when I see the pink survivor shirts… but most of all, I still wish my sister could be one of them.”

Thanks to Bev for her years of dedication. Look for her at this year’s Race on May 19!