Glad to Be an 'O Hero', Even More Glad to Give Back

By Allison Woodward-Freshman Distance Runner

 

From pink jerseys and socks, donation jars at coffee shops, and posters around Eugene, it would have been hard for someone to miss that something special was going on around campus the third week in October.  If you didn't already catch on, Breast Cancer Awareness and the Susan G. Komen Foundation are center stage this month.  For duck fans, this meant Autzen Stadium would be transformed October 22 into the headquarters for Race for the Cure, an annual Susan G. Komen event.

 Race for the Cure is a nation-wide fundraiser the Komen foundation puts on for breast cancer awareness when millions of runners, both survivors and supporters, "pink up" for the cause.  Eugene's branch of the race was no exception.  Over 50,000 participants ran in this years' race and it seemed as if even more volunteered!  Alton Baker Park and our own Autzen Stadium were played host to the event which community members and students volunteered to help organize and run.  A quick sign-up with O heroes made me one of these students.  Even though I'll admit I was terrified to show up at the Hilton by myself that Saturday, my experience setting up tents, hauling boxes, organizing merchandise and more was really worth it! 

The Komen Foundation does much to prepare for these races at various locations around the country and I was amazed that many of the women and men who I was taking directions from began as volunteers just like myself!  As I helped fold pink t-shirts and stack what seemed like endless boxes for setting up the post-race area for the following day, I talked with event managers who both began just like I did, with a spontaneous sign up for a few volunteer hours.  Like so many volunteers, breast cancer has made an impact in my own life; my grandma battled the illness six years ago and is a proud survivor. Because of my grandmother's fight and numerous other friends, I am so glad I was able to spend a few hours giving my time to help set up this event. 

One of the coolest parts of the race is the number of teams and individuals that compete on behalf of someone affected by breast cancer.  People continued to straggle in throughout our preparation, begging to enter the race on behalf of a friend, because they had a passion for running, or simply to lend a hand supporting the fight to end breast cancer.  As I am only a duckling (freshman) this fall, with no experience as an O heroes voice, it was scary to venture into the unknown Eugene community. However, as I rode my bike back to campus that afternoon, I was energized by the spirit of the Komen volunteers and really felt proud that I could lend a small hand on behalf of the ducks for such a powerful campaign in the spotlight this month, but certainly not forgotten after the race and the month of October.