When bikers for Susan G. Komen’s Race for the Cure lined up March 5 at the start line, the sun had only just barely begun to cast its rays over the horizon. Once seven o’clock struck, they were on their way -- weaving through Nocatee with the encouragement of their teammates and passersby.
The inaugural ride was one of many events scheduled by the Susan G. Komen foundation and the first to take place in Nocatee, spurred on by a promise to end breast cancer and better the lives of those affected by it.
It was also the start of a community’s dutiful call to action.
According to Susan G. Komen North Florida’s executive director, Delores Wise, eighty women in the area are diagnosed with breast cancer each month -- and over a third of those cases are diagnosed late-stage.
“We realize the importance of coming to the counties in order to help get the word out about how breast cancer is impacting North Florida,” Wise said.
And there was no better place than Nocatee’s winding trails and long routes to accommodate the race. With rides ranging from 10 miles to 64 miles, bikers were more than eager to put their feet to pedals for the cause.
As part of the day’s festivities, participants were treated to tee shirts, music and family activities, including a touching walk through a paper tulip garden dubbed “Suzy’s Garden,” where heartfelt messages were drawn onto pink flower cutouts in celebration and remembrance of breast cancer patients. The messages -- and the turnout of over 100 registered bicyclists -- served as a touching reminder of the community’s outpouring of support.
“The community’s response exceeded our expectations. We had 125 registered Riders, which most Ride events do not achieve for several years,” Wise remarked. “The Riders provided extremely helpful feedback, so that we can continue to improve upon this event. We have already set the date for next year - March 4, 2017.
But as the pink flags, ribbons, tents and flowers sprinkled throughout the lot showed, the most important thing for everyone involved was to raise awareness.
“Breast cancer kills and our best defense at this time is early detection,” said Wise. “ It is our duty -- our obligation -- to North Florida to educate the women and men in our five-county service area about breast cancer and provide access to breast health care.“
To learn more about upcoming events with Susan G. Komen’s North Florida branch, visit www.komennorthflorida.org.