With eight Run/Walks and just under a quarter of $1 Million collectively raised for research and programs for men and their families suffering from prostate cancer – it was an INCREDIBLE year of growth for the Mid-Atlantic Chapter at ZERO! As the Chapter Director, I had the privilege of working with the most amazing host partners, sponsors, ZERO Champions, and of course, the participants in eight cities that spanned the eastern seaboard of the United States, as north as Pennsylvania and as south as North Carolina.
With each Run/Walk bringing unique experiences, heartwarming memories, and emotional stories with equal tears and laughs, it was with great difficulty that I narrowed down and gathered my favorite photos from each Run/Walk and the story behind the images.
ZERO Prostate Cancer Run/Walk – Capital Area | Saturday, June 15, 2019
John Philibin was an amazing husband and father as well as a beloved, active member of his community. His prostate cancer was extremely aggressive and took him from this world too quickly last year, after a matter of mere months. Leading the charge of Team Philibin (top fundraisers, top fundraising team, and largest team) is his widow Laurel Philibin. Watching this passionate team cross the finish line in memory of John was so powerful! It was such an emotional moment for all those in attendance, especially for the team still grieving.
What this photo doesn’t tell you is that this man, Champion Mike Nuttall, is from Atlanta and drove all the way to Asheville, North Carolina so that he could participate in a ZERO Prostate Cancer Run/Walk as a prostate cancer survivor. What this photo ALSO doesn’t tell you, is that Mike jumped on stage with only 10 minutes notice to fill in as the Mission Speaker when our original Mission Speaker fell ill and was not able to be in attendance. Mike’s willingness to share his story to a crowd of strangers with no preparation was nothing short of brave and the stuff ZERO Champions are made of!
ZERO Prostate Cancer Run/Walk – Lehigh Valley | Saturday, August 24, 2019
Okay you got me – I can’t be in two places at once! I was so thankful to have had my stunning colleagues Renee Haney and Riley Breen represent in Pennsylvania on this busy Run/Walk weekend. I chose this photo of the men that we continue our fight for and their wonderful caregivers. Lehigh Valley put their best foot forward this year and raised close to $20,000 more than last year, and I couldn’t be more proud of this city and the amazing people who reside here.
This moment summarizes so much for Urology Specialists of the Carolina’s Dr. Linn (right). He worked tirelessly to make sure everyone could be included in the Run/Walk in Charlotte through an organization he works closely with called Speed for Need. Desmond (left), a prostate cancer patient, sped through the course thanks to Dr. Linn and his crew and actually DANCED across the finish line. It was such a magical moment watching Desmond and his support crew cross the finish line and the entire journey was documented here.
ZERO Prostate Cancer Run/Walk – Harrisburg | Friday, September 20, 2019
With Harrisburg being the only race in the entire Run/Walk series to be held at night, we had an incredible opportunity to conduct a blue light ceremony, where participants cracked and raised their glow sticks after hearing statements of different connections to prostate cancer. It was truly amazing to see the strength in numbers against this fight, encompassing the theme of the night with rallying cries of “ZEROSTRONG” led by Mission Speaker Mark Hagenbuch, as this race crossed the $1 Million mark for funds raised by the Harrisburg community to help end prostate cancer.
On a beautiful but COLD morning in Raleigh, we had the pleasure of having our National Run/Walk Spokesperson, Jimmy Charles in attendance! This was such an emotional rendition of Superman, our unofficial anthem that he co-wrote with a ZERO Champion and prostate cancer survivor, that there was not a dry eye in the house. This photo captures such a powerful moment during the Survivor Ceremony that was truly unforgettable. Not to mention, Jimmy used his emcee skills to help reach our onsite Fundraising goal – another race raising close to $20,000 more than the previous year!
ZERO Prostate Cancer Run/Walk – Greensboro | Saturday, November 16, 2019
With over 43 Run/Walks across the country, bi/tri-race teams are on the rise and I have a few in my chapter (shoutout to Team Ham!). Pictured here is Team George, a bicoastal team, who fights for California-resident, George (front row, middle), not only at California races, but also in Greensboro, North Carolina! Led by Greensboro-locals Shaina and Chelsea, George’s nieces, (to the right and left of George), they bring out a huge team to Greensboro to help out with the course. Shaina and Chelsea are veteran cross-country runners, and the team of volunteers they bring out from UNC Greensboro are nothing short of experts! Every little bit helps, and the Greensboro race is so thankful to have the support of Team George. Not to mention their cool hats!! I personally was so excited to receive my very own Team George hat and become an honorary member of the team.
ZERO Prostate Cancer Run/Walk – Hampton Roads | Saturday, November 17, 2019
This Team’s name is Bunch O’ Nuts and it literally could not be more fitting! The Virginia Beach-area weather had other plans for our Hampton Roads race, and with a Nor’easter throwing out intense winds (with sand in it!) and cold rain – we converted the event to be a wonderful breakfast buffet with an optional social run … and boy was there a fun party to be had by our participants who braved the weather to attend the very last ZERO Run/Walk of 2019! That being said, the spirit of fighting the elements to complete a 5K for prostate cancer was strong in this Team, who in fact wanted to start running earlier! You see, last year Bunch O’ Nuts lost their rallying member Chaz Heron, the man who made it his mission to get his friends checked, and because of his pushing, two members of Bunch O’ Nuts, including Alan above, are still here to run in his memory, as prostate cancer survivors themselves. So although there were winds blowing, rain drenching, and temps dropping, they ran into the elements with smiles.
And finally, I thought it would be sweet to end my blog with this bonus photo. I’m here with our Charlotte Race Director Tracy Peck and the gorgeous little puppy in my arms is the furbaby of our AbbVie Rep Jon Stokes. #PuppliesForProstateHealth
I can’t wait to see what 2020 has in store!