Running for awareness

The scary monster known as cancer can strike anyone, at anytime and in any part of the body, sending the person through the metaphorical trenches of a war. A 5K walk/run and silent auction will take place this weekend to raise awareness and funds for the disease.

Beth Odahlen, coordinator of the event, is organizing a 5K walk/run and silent auction to be held on Sunday, Sept. 7, in Oak Park. Registration starts at 4:30 p.m. and the walk/run starts at 5:30 p.m. The last bid for the silent auction will be taken at 6:45 p.m. There is a $35 fee to participate in the event, with proceeds going to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society (LLS) for research. The LLS organization is involved in blood cancer research, patient and family counseling and blood cancer education.

Five years ago, Odahlen said her husband was diagnosed with a form of cancer of the white blood cells and has gone through treatment for it. Her husband is lucky, she added, because he’s able to keep the cancer at bay with drug therapy, taking a pill everyday. “When we had a chance to breathe, the LLS was really helpful and gave a lot of education,” Odahlen said. “I thought I needed to pay it forward.”

The idea for coordinating a 5K walk/run came from Odahlen’s friend, who participated in Team in Training (TNT), an organization that provides training to complete events such as marathons, triathlons or biking events. In return, TNT team members raise funds to help support the LLS in exchange for certified coaches, training, mentorship and event fees to accredited events across the U.S.

Last year, Odahlen ran a half-marathon in the Nike Marathon in San Francisco and there was a large number of TNT participants who ran in the race. “I am definitely not a runner, but if people have to go through cancer treatment, then I can run a half-marathon,” she said. The race was amazing, she added, and good for her husband to see all of the support from the TNT runners.

Odahlen will be running in the same half-marathon in San Francisco again this year and wanted to bring more local awareness to what the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society does. “It’s (the event in Minot) a good way to bring awareness and raise money for research,” she added. The research that LLS does focuses on drug therapies that specifically target the person’s type of blood cancer. It’s a more personal type of treatment, Odahlen said, and they look at the drug therapy approach. “They hone in what the drug does to the body,” she added.

September is Blood Cancer Awareness month so Odahlen thought an event like this would bring awareness to people. “I don’t think people are aware of how many people get diagnosed (with blood cancers) each year,” she added. “To cure this type of cancer, you need the funds and type of research that LLS does.” Also, Odahlen said that another way for people to show their support at Sunday’s event is to wear orange or lime green. Orange is the designated color for leukemia, while lime green is the designated color for lymphoma.