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by Katie Kestner   |   January 16, 2018

My Second Year at the Annual ZERO Race Director Meeting

I recently had the pleasure of attending my second ZERO Race Director Meeting, this year in Orlando. My first Race Director Meeting was two years ago in San Antonio. That year I attended the meeting to see if our Asheville market would be able to host their first race in 2016. I went to the meeting that year nervous and I left overwhelmed but confident that we could pull off the race. I had met several other race directors and had somewhat of an understanding of what goes into planning a race. In 2017, I was unable to attend as I was recovering from having a baby less than a month before, so to say that I was excited about the 2018 meeting was an understatement.  I was going in with two races under my belt and I could attend with tips of my own, but was also ready to learn how to improve our race in other ways.

This year’s meeting started off pretty typically. We met other race directors and shared tips and tricks on how each city operates their 5K event. Over lunch, Susie from Miami shared why she’s involved with the ZERO Run/Walks. On her second slide she tearfully explained why she’s passionate about the cause, and while she was doing so two pictures popped up on the screen.

To the right was a current picture of her and a man. His arm was around her and they looked happy in the sunshine. To the left, however, was an older picture, black and white, of a little baby, around one year old and an older boy around four or five. Obviously, this was her brother. And it was like a punch to the gut. You may think that’s a weird reaction; I’ve never met Susie, and while she seems awesome and passionate about the cause, you may wonder why such a strong reaction. You see, I sat looking at that picture thinking of my own children. These two babies on the screen are around the same age as my own children. I wondered if my little girl would one day be standing in a room talking about how she’s fighting for her older brother’s life? Will she have to discuss how she’s trying to raise money for advocacy and care for someone who’s protected her for her entire life and now she’s trying to protect him?  With the work that ZERO is doing now, I hope that my son will never have to face the fear of prostate cancer and that my children will be able to enjoy a long life sharing moments together.

I think that working in the healthcare industry we sometimes lose sight of why we’re doing what we’re doing. There are budgets to make and numbers to meet and while we keep in mind that we’re helping sick patients I think that sometimes the personal touch isn’t there. We’re not in the room when a patient receives the diagnoses of prostate cancer and we’re not on the telephone line when the older brother calls his little sister to tell the hard news of the new battle he must face. I’ll be honest, I was teary eyed more than once at our meeting listening to story after story of men fighting this disease and it brought a big dose of reality to me.

I left the meeting with restored passion about hosting our own race in Asheville, NC. Of celebrating every patient and every caretaker and realizing that every day for these patients is precious. So on our race day, yes, we will have raised money for ZERO and the awareness of prostate cancer, but we will also celebrate our patients and their fight and I’m thankful for the Race Directors Meeting for re-instilling my passion for our fight!