Our father, Mark Memmott, had a long, hard battle with prostate cancer. His cancer affected our whole family in a huge way – he needed a lot of care and there were so many ups and downs.It was so difficult to see my father, the one who was always so strong, become weakened as the cancer grew. It changed everything about him. Once the cancer spread into his bones, he couldn’t even laugh without pain. As I spoke to people about my dad it was shocking to me that there was this huge misconception about prostate cancer: that it was an old man’s disease, and it isn’t a real danger. I knew something needed to be done.
When our father first fell ill, my sisters and I were looking for some activity to show our support, but had found nothing. So, in 2012, we started a walk-a-thon event with our close family and friends. The event was successful, but we wanted to do something bigger.
Then I had a crazy idea to start a 5K run in our Napa Valley community. We had no experience whatsoever (I have never even run a 5K!), but our passion for the cause drove us. It stemmed from the love of our father, the hopelessness we felt for him, and for finding new treatments and a cure. Our community rallied around us because of that passion. We held our first event, the Blue Ribbon Run 5K, in Napa in 2013.
We had more than 300 runners at that first event, and we even ran out of t-shirts! We met other families like us that were affected by this disease and we were truly touched by everyone we met that day. We saw the need for an annual event like this, and the following year, ZERO reached out to us about a race. We decided to work together to keep the event in our community and gave ourselves the name “Daughers 4 Dads” – the rest, as they say, is history.
Sadly, on Father’s Day that same year, we lost our father to this terrible disease. He was only 61 years old. What happened to him was so awful, we vowed to continue the fight against prostate cancer so other families don’t have to go through what our family did. I’m proud that we have kept this race going in his memory; it’s a great a way to honor him while helping others. In 2018 we are getting ready to host our 5th Run/Walk, and the event has changed so much since that first one.
It is now an annual tradition that many families count on in the Napa Valley. Every year it has grown with more support from our community, more participant, and more money raised for the cause. More individuals have come forward and want to be involved as volunteers or committee members. It’s so wonderful to see everyone coming together, and we’re so grateful for the support our community has shown us. The race is now organized not only my sisters and I, but by our team of people wanting to help because this cancer has affected them too. It’s about our father, but it’s also about all of these other families going through the same battle that he did.
We’ve also received a local grant as a part of the money raised from our race, which we’ve donated to Adventist Health St. Helena Hospital and the Martin O’Niel, Cancer Center so they can form a regional prostate cancer program. To-date, the funds have also been used to update and purchase a new Brachytherapy machine for prostate cancer treatment.
I never thought in my wildest dreams I’d be helping to organize a charity run for a cure for cancer. It’s an unfortunate circumstance that has brought me here, but I wanted to share some advice for those who are thinking about starting their own event: listen to your heart, lean on your passion, and share your story with others. You never know who has been touched by prostate cancer, who will be willing to help, and who needs your support.