St. Luke’s Blue Ribbon Race/Walk Brings Awareness to Prostate Cancer
St. Luke’s chief of urology, Frank Tamarkin, MD, celebrates near the finish.
During the first St. Luke’s Blue Ribbon 5K Race and Family Fun Walk, Jennifer Jones was amazed by the support she saw and felt for those affected by prostate cancer.
“I couldn’t believe the outpouring from families, friends, co-workers, local businesses, and more,” recalls Jones, a certified medical dosimetrist in St. Luke’s Radiation Oncology Department and the race’s founder and co-director. “Watching all of the runners, walkers, volunteers, and sponsors truly was one of the most amazing things I’ve ever seen.”
Now, three years later that sense of amazement persists as Jones, her fellow event committee members and event volunteers successfully coordinated the 4th annual St. Luke’s Blue Ribbon 5K Race and Family Fun Walk. This year’s event was held on Sunday, September 25 at the St. Luke’s Anderson Campus Gardens. More than 200 people participated by either running or volunteering, together raising close to $17,000 for local prostate cancer patients.
“The mission of this race is to reach out to the community during Prostate Cancer Awareness Month and provide information regarding prostate cancer screening and services offered at St. Luke’s – from detection and treatment to support groups for gentlemen diagnosed and their families,” Jones says.
According to the American Cancer Society, approximately 1 in 7 men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer during his lifetime. Prostate cancer is second to only skin cancer as the most common form of cancer affecting American men.
Proceeds from the St. Luke’s Blue Ribbon 5K Race and Family Fun Walk are placed in the St. Luke’s Cancer Center Fund, which is available to assist prostate cancer patients with expenses not covered by insurance and also helps fund programs offered by the cancer center.
Race co-director Steven Blasi, DO, of St. Luke's Warren Palmer Family Practice has been a long-distance runner for more than 30 years. He finished second in the first year he ran the Blue Ribbon 5K.
And they’re off! St. Luke’s 4th Annual Blue Ribbon 5K kicked off under a beautiful blue sky.
“I was leading the whole way when an older guy passed me near the end,” he laughs. “That kind of hurt and because I have recruited a lot of my friends to run in it who are much better runners than me, my chances of winning are dwindling. Still, it has been a very fun and rewarding event every single year. It’s a beautiful course and an honest 5K with up-hills and down-hills, and both paved and trail running.”
Key to the success of the event are its sponsors and partnerships. This year, sponsorship coordinators Cindy Fisher and Gail Evans, associate vice president of development for St. Luke’s, were able to increase sponsor participation, contributing greatly to the event’s success.
“The Prostate Cancer Awareness Fund of the Lehigh Valley (PCAFLV), a not-for-profit organization, has been a strong supporter of the Blue Ribbon 5K every single year,” says Evans. “Their annual grant allows us to advertise on billboards across the Lehigh Valley, which not only promotes the race but also raises awareness about the importance of prostate cancer screening.
For Fisher, who is the practice administrator at Northgate Urology Associates for Dr. Joseph Lennert, there is a strong obligation to educate others about prostate cancer.
“Dr. Lennert treats a large number of the prostate cancer patients,” Fisher explains. “Anything I can do to raise awareness about the whole cycle of prostate cancer – from diagnosis to treatment to post-treatment – I want to be involved in. The St. Luke’s Blue Ribbon 5K Race and Family Fun Walk is a great way to do so.”
It also gives her the opportunity to see the impact of the efforts St. Luke’s practitioners and professionals are having on the patients in the prostate cancer community.
“We become very close to our patients and their families through this entire treatment process and it’s great to see our patients, their families and other supporters at the race,” Fisher says. “Our relationships with them are ongoing and they are for life.”
Special Thanks to the 4th Annual St. Luke’s Blue Ribbon 5K Race and Family Fun Sponsors
- Prostate Cancer Awareness Fund of the Lehigh Valley
- Aardvark Sports Shop
- Steven Blasi, DO, St. Luke’s Warren Palmer Family Practice
- Casa Italia
- Easton Outdoor Company
- Fegley's Brew Works
- Ferring Pharmaceuticals
- Gilmore & Associates, Inc.
- Just Born
- Keystone Consulting Engineers
- Keystone Snacks
- Lehigh Valley IronPigs
- Nazareth Run Inn
- Northgate Urology Associates, Dr. Joseph Lennert
- The O'Brien Clinic, Philip O'Brien, DC, CKTP
- Road ID
- St. Luke’s Center for Urology
- Smoke’n Hoff's BBQ
- Sweat Like A Girl
- Texas Roadhouse
- Tolmar Pharmaceutical
Save the Date! Join us next year on Sunday, September 24, 2017.
For more information about St. Luke’s Blue Ribbon 5K Race and Family Fun Walk, see the event listing on the Active website.
Feature Photo: Race Committee Members (left to right): Cindy Fisher, Amy Plavcan, Jennifer Jones, Gail Evans, Steven Blasi, DO.