Camaraderie and Color

Sherry Paschal and Team Sherry performing a flash mob dance at the Julie Richard
Camaraderie and Color

Experience the joy of camaraderie and color, and honor the strength, courage and spirit of cancer survivors as Gift of Life presents the fifth annual Julie Richardson Procter 5K Ribbon Run Color Rush, scheduled for 8 a.m. Saturday, Oct. 3, in downtown Beaumont. The run raises awareness of breast, ovarian and other gynecological cancers and benefits the Gift of Life breast and ovarian cancer programs. 

Registration and packet pick up is at 6 a.m. the day of the event, or participants can pick their packets up early Tuesday, Sept. 29 – Friday, Oct. 2, at the Beaumont Civic Center. Standard registration is $30. Registration includes fundraising tools, a personal page to raise money, T-shirt, color packet and route details. At the finish line, participants will receive a medal. Those who register late for $30 are not guaranteed a T-shirt. Breast, ovarian and other gynecological cancer survivors walk for free. 

Start in your choice of white outfit or Ribbon Run shirt, and by the end of the 3-mile run/walk, you will become a walking work of art. The “color” is an eco-friendly 100 percent natural cornstarch that is safe and easy to wash out.

Named in memory of Julie Richardson Procter, who passed away in 2011 after a fight with ovarian cancer, the Ribbon Run pays tribute to her courageous battle. Her husband, Beau Procter, and sister-in-law Patti McSpadden, honorary chair for the event, both share Julie’s passion of educating women about the symptoms of ovarian cancer to heighten awareness and enhance early diagnosis and positive prognoses. The two spoke at the Gift of Life press conference promoting the event Tuesday, Aug. 11, at the Beaumont Civic Center.

“Julie was a very smart woman, and she was also a doer. Julie took care of herself,” McSpadden said. “She knew there were symptoms and signs for breast cancer, and she checked all of these things out, but when it came time for ovarian cancer awareness, she wasn’t so sure about that, and so she didn’t know to check those types of things. She knew her own family history, but it didn’t occur to any of us. When it became evident that the end was coming, she wanted to make sure that the word got out to save your own life. Do something about your own health. If Julie were here, she would be the first person to cross that finish line, I assure you. She would be behind each and every one of you cheering you on.”

“My hope is that when people listen to their doctors, ask questions and don’t just take the answers that are given to you. Challenge them,” Beau Procter added.

Lola Campbell Wilber, a new bride and ovarian cancer patient who is still undergoing chemotherapy, first learned the subtle symptoms of the disease while attending the Ribbon Run two years ago with her daughter. This invaluable information alerted her to early indicators of her disease.

“When 80 percent of ovarian cancers are discovered at stage 3 or 4, I was extremely lucky to discover mine at stage 2, which is almost unheard of,” Wilber tearfully remarked at the Gift of Life press conference. “Thanks to the information I received during the Ribbon Run, I knew what to do – how to pay attention to symptoms and follow up. The Gift of Life literally gave me the information that saved my life!”

This year’s event is co-chaired by breast cancer survivor Sherry Paschal and her friends, Jessica Brown and Christy Simon.

According to the National Cancer Institute, 12.4 percent of women born in the United States today will develop breast cancer at some time during their lives. This estimate means that, if the current incidence rate stays the same, a woman born today has about a 1 in 8 chance of being diagnosed with breast cancer at some time during her life.

Paschal is one of these women. The Beaumont woman was diagnosed with breast cancer Jan. 24, 2014, at the age of 36.

“No family history. Complete shock,” Paschal said.

Despite her sickness, Paschal insisted on participating in last year’s run.

“When the Color Rush started, I had taken my last treatment and at that point I had had a double mastectomy and six months of chemotherapy,” she said. “Not a hair on my head. No eyelash. No eyebrow. No anything. At age 36 with small kids is tough. I remember thinking, ‘How am I going to get through this?’”

Simon, who has been friends with Paschal for more than four years, said although she wasn’t able to participate in the Color Rush last year, she saw the support Paschal received.

“She didn’t realize how successful it would be,” Simon said. “It was pretty neat to see all the people come out and support her. If you know Sherry, you love Sherry. When you see someone you love suffering, it hurts. It was a beacon of hope to see them out there to support her.”

Family, friends and co-workers showed their support for Paschal by turning out for the run and helping Team Sherry become one of the top fundraising teams for the 2014 Color Rush.

“Every day I would get an e-mail from someone else who wanted to join my team,” Paschal said. “When I showed up and all those people were there for me, I felt so triumphant. It just really pushed me to have the confidence to say, ‘I can do this.’”

Team Sherry will be participating again this year, Paschal said, who added that building a team for the Ribbon Run is not only about raising funds for a good cause, but is just plain fun.

“The camaraderie is so awesome,” said Paschal, who is now cancer free.

“This is a great community builder, but it’s also a lot of fun for you and your family, so it’s a win-win,” added Simon.

Founded in 1994, the Julie Rogers “Gift of Life” Program offers free healthcare services and education for residents within seven Southeast Texas counties. Since inception, the organization has helped extend the lives of nearly 250 individuals who have been diagnosed with breast or prostate cancer and navigated through treatment and healing.

This year’s Gift of Life Ribbon Run features great prizes, entertainment, a Kiddie Color Zone and a health-related Wellness Village.

Take the Pink Challenge with family and friends by forming a team and raising money to benefit the Gift of Life Breast and Ovarian Cancer Awareness Program.

To form a team, go online at event.giftoflifebmt.org or call the Gift of Life at (409) 833-3663.

 

Kevin King can be reached at (409) 832-1400, ext. 227, or by e-mail at kevin [at] theexaminer [dot] com.

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