Chemo Noir to hold race, wine tasting June 15 to support cancer patients

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To help pay medical bills for those struggling with cancer, Chemo Noir will host its third annual 1-mile race and wine tasting on Saturday, June 15, at Casa Marina Hotel and Restaurant in Jacksonville Beach from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

After the race, guests and participants will be welcomed back to Casa Marina for the wine-tasting, featuring select wines from sponsors, along with live music by Barrett Thomas, a photo booth and smoothie samples from Smoothie King. There will also be a raffle that features prizes ranging from Jaguar game tickets to Rolling Stone tickets and massage packages. 

Jacksonville’s local mascots, Fang from the Icemen, Shrimp Scampi from the Jumbo Shrimp and even Jaxson de Ville from the Jacksonville Jaguars will be at the race, competing against one another to establish the fastest mascot of the city. 

The story behind the race

Chemo Noir is a local nonprofit organization that raises money through wine-centric events to help cancer patients offset the out-of-pocket medical costs of fighting cancer.

Founder and Nease high school alumna Katrin Casey has been an athlete since she can remember. She’s a fellow runner and soccer player. She’s also a cancer survivor. 

Casey was diagnosed with colon cancer in 2014 and treated her illness as she would any other physical obstacle in her way, like a training program. 

“I handled it just like I would getting ready for soccer season,” Casey said. “I prepared really well. I was going to treatment every other week for nine months. I had a routine and I had paper rings where I took one down every time I finished the treatment. I definitely handled it like a playbook.” 

Although she handled her treatment like the disciplined, dedicated athlete she is, Casey remembers times where she felt far from that state. Her diagnosis caused her to put a pause on running for over a year and a half. At times, she couldn’t even lift 10 pounds. 

“It drove me crazy,” she said. “Like I couldn’t even take my trash out.”

Whether it was the treatment or her sheer will to not quit on the game of life, Casey made a significant recovery and goes into remission this summer. 

After her year and a half hiatus, Casey was finally able to run her first mile. Not only did this signify her recovery, but also the fact that the real Katrin Casey — not the cancer patient — but the runner, the athlete, the fighter was back. 

“I was in tears the whole time,” she said nostalgically and proud. “It was on the beach and that’s where I got inspired to do this event.” 

One of the most significant parts of the 1-mile run is the half-mile turn in the race, called “Tara’s Turn,” dedicated to Casey’s dear friend who died during her battle with brain cancer just before Chemo Noir’s first race.

“She used to be in my soccer club team,” Casey said. “We’d meet up on our ‘good weeks’ when we weren’t in treatment and have a little wine together. I was extremely affected by her passing and her sister is one of the founders of Chemo Noir, so I just wanted to dedicate that to her and her memory.”

Casey mentioned having survivor’s guilt, questioning why she beat cancer rather than others. But if it weren’t for Casey’s survival, the community would have lost even more members who could not have afforded treatment, had it not been for Casey and Chemo Noir. 

Just last week, Casey met with a fellow recipient struggling with breast cancer who was granted financial assistance by Chemo Noir after her son was killed in a car accident and had to pay unexpected funeral costs. 

“She was going back to work, trying to get her life back together, still battling cancer and dealing with this massive loss of her only son, so she had a lot of medical overflow that she couldn’t shake,” Casey explained. “It’s heartbreaking. I cry every time I write a check.”

Casey couldn’t be any more thankful for those in the community who’ve come out to support her organization and its cause. After all, it’s because of those who’ve attended Chemo Noir’s events that she’s able to give back in the first place. She calls her Chemo Noir family her tribe and couldn’t be any more proud of it.

“Cancer is just a tremendous feat,” Casey said. “Getting through it is hard enough and you shouldn’t have to worry about a few thousand dollars just to live, as long as I’m concerned.”

For more information on Chemo Noir, the 1-mile race and wine tasting and more survivor stories, visit www.chemonoir.com .

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