Annual Mission 5K run/ walk inspires hope

Friends help Zoraya Ramirez (middle),49, of McAllen with her pink outfit during the 10th Annual Mission Pink Breast Cancer Awareness 5k Run at Mission Regional Medical Center on Saturday, Oct.12, 2019 in Mission. Zoraya is a second time survivor. She was diagnosed at the age of 39 and then at 49. Photo by Delcia Lopez/The Monitor

MISSION — The weather was dreary, but the mood was nothing short of inspiring.

The 59-degree weather did not discourage the hundreds of participants and supporters of the 10th annual Mission Pink Breast Cancer Awareness 5K Walk/ Run on Saturday morning.

“It went really well. The new partnership between (Mission Regional Medical Center) and the American Cancer Society brought out a lot of different people,” said April Chapa, senior community development manager for the American Cancer Society. “There was a sea of pink everywhere, which is good.”

Pink shirts, hats, wigs, tutus, even a pair of pink colored poodles were observed in the parking lot of Mission Regional Medical Center, forming a sea of pink. The mood was exuberant as music blared over the loudspeakers.

Among those wearing pink tutus was Jo Ann Lumbreras of Edinburg, who herself is a cancer survivor.

“I was diagnosed in December 2018 with triple negative breast cancer. I actually just went into complete remission. I just finished my treatment on September 20th,” Lumbreras explained. “(The event) is a little breath-taking. It’s my first time. It’s just a little overwhelming. The support is amazing.”

Following the presentation of colors and a blessing from Rev. Roy Snipes, a bagpiper played “Amazing Grace,” which led to some people in the crowd to openly weep.

Four local breast cancer survivors, Kathy Vallez, Rosie Mendez, Maria De Jesus and Lulu Rizalde, were introduced as “Portraits of Hope.” Each was given the opportunity to address the crowd.

Before the race kicked off, the sea of pink began to pulsate as the crowd participated in a quick Zumba to get the blood flowing. Then at approximately 8:30 a.m., an explosion of pink confetti signaled the beginning of the 5K run/ walk.

“I work at Walmart, and we do a lot of charity events. I always do 5Ks whenever they come,” said Miguel Bolandran of Weslaco, who was the first to cross the finish line with a time of 21:36. “It’s to represent all the women, and men as well, who have survived breast cancer.”

Jesenia Garza of Mission said that she was running to support her aunt, Pat, who is a two-time survivor of breast cancer.

“I’ve been doing this for 10 years,” said Garza. “It feels good to support the families, and they support you in everything you do as well.”

The funds raised for the event will go to the American Cancer Society for the local break cancer community, which provides free wigs, scarfs, free rides to treatment, a 24-hour support line, and free hotels for patients who visit MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston.

“I think it was really successful. We had a lot of people,” Chapa said. “We’re really trying to give out our services to the community. All the events that we do is services for cancer patients and their families; the awareness of breast cancer and early prevention, but also what we have to offer. My goal is to just let people know what we have.”

fjimenez@themonitor.com