Everyone wins at Beat the Odds fundraiser run

Sam Lagerquist won Saturday’s Beat the Odds 5K run/2-mile walk, a woman’s race against breast cancer and the men’s prostate cancer 5K run along the Kaxdigoowu Heen Dei (Mendenhall River Trail).


Cindy Stadt won the Beat the Odds also, finishing with her daughters Riley Stadt and Lindsey Daniel.

“I do this for breast cancer and because these are my daughters,” Cindy Stadt said. “And I want to pass on that we should support all these kinds of causes. We do it every year.”

Claire Uchytil, Abby Watts and Georgia Robinson won Saturdays run as well, finishing in a strong sprint as only best friends can.

“Because it is fun,” the three said while catching their breath, giggling, and drinking Gatorade. “For fun and to show support. It is important to do this every year. To get out and support.”

Elizabeth Stickel, 25, won the race on Saturday twice, after crossing the finish and receiving a complimentary carnation, she ran back out to find her mother Lorraine, 61, and the two finished together.

“My grandmother had cancer,” Elizabeth said. “I am visiting from Oregon so I thought this would be a nice cause.”

Cancer Connection, founded by prostate cancer survivor Mike Miller, 60, has organized the Beat the Odds the past seven years, after it outgrew Glacier Valley Rotary. Cathy Bressette came up with the idea more than 20 years ago and passed it on to the rotary club after eight years due to increased participation.

Beat the Odds is Cancer Connection’s biggest fundraiser of the year. Funds are used to help patients with travel expenses for treatment. It has aided them in securing an apartment near Swedish and Virginia Mason Hospitals for patients who need 4-6 weeks of treatment in Seattle.

Laird Jones, 57, was a winner in Saturday’s prostate cancer race.

“I always try to run the prostate race,” Jones said, “It is something that is good to do. We know friends with cancer and this is the only run we have, so my wife, Francine Eddy Jones, does the women’s run.”

Rick Deising also won the 2-mile walk on Saturday. He has won every day since being diagnosed with breast cancer, having two “chunks” removed from his chest and being a survivor. Deising is also a member of the Inland Boatman’s Union Of The Pacific, a sponsor, among many, of the event for 21 years.

“We are all survivors,” Deising said. “I am very supportive of the cause. I have done this race 18 times. It is a fantastic event and I love all the people who are involved in this.”

Deising stated he was shocked with his diagnosis, although he always knew he had too much sun as a youth. Deising said he treated it as a positive after surgery and knew life could continue on cancer free.

“I have had several friends die to prostate cancer,” Deising said. “Sometimes it just sets right in and you don’t have long to go. I am here to celebrate today, celebrate my friends and celebrate everyone involved.”

Pat Yearty is a winner and a survivor. She has been volunteering with Beat the Odds for 11 years and was diagnosed with breast cancer 16 years ago.

Yearty became involved with Cancer Connection at a support group and is now on the board. On Saturday she was overseeing a table with last year’s bright pink T-shirts, pins, and other worthy collectibles available.

“I think what they do is wonderful,” Yearty said, “Giving support to cancer patients here at home. So many of them have to leave. To see this support means you are not alone. Cancer patients feel isolated, you think nobody understands, but here they do and they care. It is heartwarming and gives you hope.”

Sandra Bleicher, a new Cancer Connection board member, has participated in the race and is a winner.

“I just wanted to do something that I thought would help a lot of people,” Bleicher said. “Especially since they are not here in Alaska.”

Janeann Twelker, 59, also won on Saturday.

“I am running it for people who have cancer,” Twelker said. “You think about them all the time, it is so hard to explain.”

Macy Cook, 18, won for the third year in a row.

“To support the cause and to run,” Cook said of why she participated. “I think that is important.”

Brandee Gerke volunteered along the river trail system behind Riverbend Elementary School and Thunder Mountain High School, directing runners one way and walkers another.

“I lost my grandpa and several good friends’ parents to cancer.” Gerke said. “Just appreciate all the time you have and take good care of yourself. I think I would like to volunteer a lot more, to give back. I think we need to try and have a healthy lifestyle and encourage others to do the same.”

Scott Watts and son Nick, 8, ran together as winners “for the fun of getting out,” Watts said, “It is a good habit.”

Leslie Weaver Daugherty, 59, was a winner, running with two red hearts pinned to her shirt, one for “Grammie” and one for Harriet.

“It is a wonderful way to honor those women who have endured and gone through the ordeal of cancer of all types,” Daugherty said. “My Grammie had to have both breasts removed, and Harriet was my mother-in-law who died from cancer.”

John Post ran with grandson Noatak Post because “it is a good cause, a serious problem for men, and we just like to run.”

Walkers Naomi Hobbs and Judy Lumb entered for exercise, the local Cancer Connection, and because they know several people with cancer.

“It is pretty encouraging to see so many people here,” they said. “And it gives survivors and those with cancer the sense that they are not alone.”

Christie Hendrich, 45, was the first women’s race winner to cross the finish line. Hendrich pushed a running stroller with Sigrid Eller, 2, riding inside.

“My mom is a survivor,” Hendrich said, “My grandmother died from breast cancer and my great-grandmother is a survivor also. I just think anything that can make people feel inspired in the face of something like breast cancer is a great thing, and something that makes people feel physically strong and supportive of each other is great.”

John Bursell was the first men’s run finisher.

“It is a great workout,” Bursell said, “More importantly, it is always a good cause. I know quite a few people with cancer and it is always nice to support a cause where you feel like you are doing something other than just running.”

Cancer Connection vice president Tish Satre spoke before more than 600 winners on Saturday. They were race participants, race volunteers and others who came to champion the cause.

“You have that moment when the doctor turns to you and says, ‘Oh, it is cancer,” Satre said to the gathering after the race. “Intellectually it is a much different experience than it is emotionally when you face it.”

Satre had bladder, kidney and cervical cancer diagnosed in 1997 and is a 15-year survivor. She is a winner.

Cancer Connection treasurer Ruth Johnson was in high school when her mother was diagnosed with breast cancer in 1975. Her mother, Elizabeth Shackleford, is now 88-years-old and a winner.

“She is a winner, she is,” Johnson said, “She has had four primary cancers. She swears she will die of old age even if they have to bury her in a thimble box as they keep whittling away parts.”

As Satre spoke, Sam Lagerquist, 5, reached deep into a box and drew out names of numerous other winners. He handed the names to Satre and door prizes were awarded.

Prizes were donated by Alaska Airlines, Foggy Mountain Shop and many other local businesses. Gifts included massages, baskets, gifts of all makings, certificates for anything and everything; all donated by generous winners in and around the community.

“It is fun,” Lagerquist said. “Yeah.”

• For more information please contact Cancer Connection at 796-2273, www.cancerconnectionak.org. Race results are posted in Sports.


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