As the participants started arriving, there was such a sense of community. People of all ages came out in support of this cause, and the overall mood of the morning was inspiring. I was amazed at how a seemingly morbid topic could bring out so much joy in a large number of people.
Run for Her was started by a woman named Kelli Sargent as a graduate school project to honor her mother, Nanci, an ovarian cancer survivor. It is designed to raise money for ovarian cancer research, and is sponsored by Cedars-Sinai's Women's Cancer Research Institute in Los Angeles.
I volunteered to help that day, because I had never really heard of a fundraiser for ovarian cancer, and I wanted to learn more about the disease. Also, my mother works at Cedars. I knew that the No. 1 cancer affecting women is breast cancer, and I know that much has been accomplished in trying to find a cure. When I found out about Run for Her, and that it was geared toward a lesser-known women's cancer, I wanted to help.
As soon as I arrived at the race, the volunteer supervisor sent me to staff the start/finish line. My job was to collect the bib tags off of every runner who wanted to be timed. I had to string them together in numerical order as they passed the finish line, and run them to the registration tent to be tallied.
When I was first given this job, I was intimidated because it has a lot of responsibility. But it was also comforting, because the other volunteers were just as enthusiastic and supportive as the runners themselves.
Being given such a significant task made me feel like I was really doing something crucial for the cause. When the race started I was even asked to hold the finish line tape for the first timed male and female runners to complete the race. As I stood there tightly holding one end of the banner, there was an amazing sense of anticipation and excitement when we were notified that the winner was coming.
The excitement didn't end when the race was over, either. After the race, there was a party celebrating the runners and the Sargent family for all of their hard work and dedication. During the reception, the amount of money that the runners raised was announced. The final number was astounding, more than $300,000, and the total has reached more than $400,000 with additions afterward.
I was shocked that an event could bring in such a large sum of money in only its second year. It really gave me hope that more people would become aware of the threat that ovarian cancer causes to women. The number of kids and teenagers my age at the event also reassured me that we will make sure that even more awareness is raised in the future, so that one day we will have the tools we need to completely eradicate this disease.
For more information, visit at www.runforher.com.
Rachel Keller is a 10th-grader at Cleveland Humanities Magnet in Reseda. Speak Up! Tribe, a page by and for teens, appears the first issue of every month in The Jewish Journal. Ninth- to 12th-graders are invited to submit first-person columns, feature articles or news stories of up to 800 words. Deadline for the February issue is Jan. 15; Deadline for the March issue is Feb. 15. Send submissions to firstname.lastname@example.org.