For those battling breast cancer, emotional support can be just as important as physical support.
That’s what the 23rd annual Heaven Can Wait 5K aimed to provide on Sunday.
The run and walk hosted by St. Charles Hospital cancer services began at 10:30 a.m. under sunny skies.
“It’s been three years since we’ve been able to get together in person to celebrate an amazing event, and we’re raising money to celebrate the amazing women in our community battling breast cancer,” said Mari Shay, the Administrative Director of Cancer Services at St. Charles.
More than 900 people, including 160 cancer survivors, turned out on the track at Redmond High School to raise money for Sara’s Project, a fund of the St. Charles foundation that provides support for Central Oregonians battling breast cancer.
The hospital chose to move the event to Redmond due to ‘unforeseen logistical challenges’ with the former venue, Drake Park in Bend.
Shay said their cancer center provides prevention, treatment and survivorship support to folks within around 32,000 square miles.
“We are embarking on a large developmental program to enhance and expand our prevention and screening services, particularly out in our rural communities where they have limited access to some of those screening services,” she said. “In addition, we’ve added genetic testing and genetic counseling to the Bend and Redmond community in Central Oregon, which we’re one of the first to do that, so we’re really excited to bring those services here as well.”
She said Heaven Can Wait was one of the first events she heard about to support cancer survivors when she moved to town.
“I think it has a long history of doing amazing work, not only for the cancer center and for raising money for Sara’s Project, but helping bring our community together,” she said.
In a typical year, Heaven Can Wait raises around $100,000 for Sara’s Project. This year’s event was smaller than normal, as it was the first year back in-person after the pandemic, and due to the change in venue, but they still managed to raise nearly $70,000 by the time the race began.