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August 16, 2005 > 5K run/walk for breast cancer brings the community together

5K run/walk for breast cancer brings the community together

by Tina Cuccia

Get ready to walk, stroll, stride or even run. The HERS Breast Cancer Foundation's Sixth Annual KEEP ABREAST-Walking Together for HER 5K Run/Walk is coming on September 24 at Coyote Hills Regional Park.

Everyone is welcome to participate in the morning event that brings together women, men and children to address the issue of breast cancer, as well as the needs of families in our community touched by this disease.

The event includes an opening ceremony honoring breast cancer survivors and a release of white doves into the sky. There will be refreshments, a barbeque lunch, live music, a health expo "village" and prizes.

"It's beautiful," said HERS (Hope Empowerment Renewal and Support) Breast Cancer Foundation co-founder and President Dr. Tricia McMahon, describing both the location and the essence of the event. "It touches people's lives to be able to come together like this. It's a powerful community event as well as our major annual fundraiser."

Founded in 1998, HERS is a local nonprofit charitable organization helping women and their loved ones. Outreach programs of the organization are geared toward improving women's physical, mental and spiritual well-being, with an emphasis on helping women with breast cancer.

All proceeds from the event stay in the community in support of the HERS Breast Cancer Foundation's outreach programs and services such as "Bras for Body & Soul," a one-stop full service specialty boutique located on Mowry Avenue for all women and girls. Bras for Body and Soul provides private bra fittings for healthy, comfortable bras (in sizes that range from AA to N) for clients whether their need is for pre- or post-surgical garments, everyday wear or just for special events.

The run/walk also supports a variety of classes offered by HERS at their Paseo Padre Parkway location that includes a mediation garden. Classes include a Reiki clinic, Kundalini Yoga, a meditation circle and more. Their "I Feel Good" class uses art in the healing process and is the first and only one of its kind in the East Bay. "Getting in touch with the artist within helps to awaken the inner healer," says I Feel Good class creator and facilitator instructor Anna Tzanova.

Other HERS programs supported by the event include a breast health outreach program offering presentations and seminars; a Women's Conference featuring speakers, performers and a health expo; and one-on-one advocacy and support services, plus much more.

If you have not heard of HERS, you may have unknowingly passed by their location where a wooden and handcrafted "Hope for Her" sign hangs out front. McMahon said people have stopped by the house to tell her they have been praying for "whoever is sick here" or have asked her if she has a loved one who is serving in the Iraq war.

"So many people I meet - grocery clerks, nurses, and clients at the bra shop - say they and their kids have seen the sign and wondered what it means," said McMahon, and she doesn't mind the inquires. In fact, she thinks it would be inspiring if more homes had positive messages out front for all to see. "It has been incredible to witness what it evokes in people," she said, adding, "I am happy to have something on the house that's heartwarming."

While the organization is still evolving, McMahon says her hope is that one day HERS will be a women's center where visitors (not just those with breast cancer) could stop by anytime to take classes, join support groups, get referrals or just get the information they need. The center would support not only those suffering from breast cancer but also caregivers and husbands. She said they would like the center to help educate women on how they could avoid getting breast cancer by learning how to focus on staying healthy.

"Feeling hope, personal empowerment and community support are vital to the quality of our lives, especially in the midst of difficulties," McMahon said. "We are committed to providing resources for that."

McMahon is not a breast cancer survivor herself but says she has had a longtime interest in well-being, particularly the connection between body and spirit. "Both facets are integral to healing and to our overall health," she said.

While there many other breast cancer events sponsored by national organizations, McMahon feels there is something about supporting a local hands-on grassroots organization, "It's intimate and personal."

KEEP ABREAST-Walking Together for HER 5K Run/Walk is September 24 from 8 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at Coyote Hills Regional Park, 8000 Patterson Ranch Road in Fremont. Register by August 31 and save $5 on the entry fee. Entry for adults is $35, children from 11 to 17 years old is $20. Children under 11 are free. Parking is free. For more information on the Run/Walk or any of HERS programs, please visit www.HERSfund.org or call (510) 226-9255.

 
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