No Better Place*

by Lifetime Board Member Mary Booher

There’s a moment just at sunrise when we catch our breath…then we’re caught in the force that is Race for the Cure.

Nothing else is anything like it. Flagler Drive comes alive at dawn with banners in place, balloons aloft, flags flying. Palm trees are wearing pink ribbons and first light finds that, overnight, a village of tents and booths has appeared, with a village of volunteers ready. You become aware that the hum of a beat starts to build, then the music plays “Here Comes the Sun.”

It begins. Here come the people. Hundreds stream in, then thousands upon thousands more, all wearing the bright colors of their new Race shirts. Everything seems to explode at once. The pace cars start up, the starting horn blasts, and the first of the runners are off!

On stage, the music gets going, going—and it’s jazzercise time, warm-up time, dancing time, or just stand-there-and-take-it-all-in time. Rub your eyes and catch your breath–but don’t miss the start of the co-ed walk. First is the quiet army of individual walkers, each with his or her own reason to march. Hot on their heels come the teams, cheering proud and ready to go, fists in the air, spirit to spare! Some of them strut, some of them stroll. Most of them smile but it’s the tears that get you. As they pass, notice the signs that they wear because the back-signs say it all: “In Celebration for…”—“In Memory of…”

Watch for the drill team, or the bagpiper, or the clowns. The bikers and the sewing circle, your rabbi or your priest, public figures and politicians and even surprise celebrities. No such thing as too young—the ones riding daddies’ shoulders get the best view anyway. Too old? Talk to our grande dame, a survivor one hundred years strong.

Your imagination will go into overdrive, witnessing the human stories around you. How many human stories? Well, last year we counted over 22,000. And you’ll begin to understand that every one of them is there for the cause. Or just because. No lost causes here.

At mid-morning, thousands assemble near the stage as proud and loyal sponsors take a bow. Year after year, sponsors are the benefactors who remind us what community giving can provide, the active archangels who set the pace before the Race begins.

Now. Now is where all of this leads. Ten o’clock is the time for the point of it all and the reason for why we are here. Fair warning, though: the Survivors Celebration has the power to make strong men cry and strangers hug strangers. Maybe you’ve noticed the pink caps and pink shirts scattered throughout the crowd. Now is the time when they begin to come forward, through the cheering crowd, up the steps to the stage. They just keep on coming, hundreds upon hundreds, surpassing a thousand—so many survivors. They fill the stage. They fill our eyes to overflowing.

Their message? Whether a few days or fifty-plus years after a breast cancer diagnosis, hope is real and strong and getting better all the time. Survival is a celebration again and again, and here is the place you can see it and hug it and know it. And you know that we all carry in us the knowledge that this profound and life-affirming force we call Race for the Cure is also an affirmation of the power of the human spirit extending throughout our community, year after year, alive in this place.

So at sunrise, at the start of a new day at the start of a new year, there is no better place you can be than at Race for the Cure. You’ll see why. See you there!

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Mary Booher

Founding Board Member

*Reprinted by permission of the author