By Jasmine Williams
Mercy student-athletes and staff voluntarily gave up their Sunday to participate in the 20th Komen Greater NYC Race for the Cure at Central Park in Manhattan on Sept. 18.
Members from the women’s basketball, field hockey and softball teams volunteered as course marshals along the race route. With volunteers from other colleges/universities and organizations, the athletes cheered the thousands of runners, as well as the three Mercy runners, women’s basketball coach Kellianne Dunlay, field hockey coach Kayte Kinsley and head athletic trainer Meredith Pope, who ran under the team name “Have Mercy.”
As course marshals, the athletes were dispersed along the last mile of the 5K run/walk and were required to direct participants throughout the course, but found themselves enjoying cheering with others for thousands of strangers who were participating in the event.
Scattered along the final leg of the race with Mercy’s student-athletes were Jay Baum and Debbie Baum, volunteers from God’s Love We Deliver and Charline Mitchell, a graduate student from St. John’s University with New York’s Kappa Sigma Chapter international sorority, Sigma Gamma Ro.
“Everybody wants to be able to say they ran, and they can’t run unless there are people like us helping them, which is just as important,” explained Debbie Baum when asked about her involvement as a course marshal. “We wanted to be a part of that structure. Yeah, we don’t get to say that we ran, but these people wouldn’t be able to run if we weren’t helping them.”
Members of the women’s basketball team are not unfamiliar with the length and energy required to run the race. Last year, returning members of the team ran the 5k and were excited to participate in a different setting this year with more athletes.
“It shows that Mercy is active when it comes to community service,” said senior, dual-athlete, Crasheena Ward. “I’m not sure how much the addition of the two other teams will be, but it shows how Mercy’s female athletes have come together as a unit for a good cause.”
Under the leadership of Dunlay, participation in the Komen Greater NYC Race for the Cure is assured to be an annual event with more athlete involvement.
“It’s one community service event that I’d like to have 100 percent participation in. I brought it to Mercy last year and would love to continue the tradition. So as long as I am here, we shall be involved and starting next year, men’s sports will be invited to participate as well. It’s not only a female disease, but one that also affects males,” explained Dunlay.
The race began on Oct. 13, 2001 and has steadily grown since. Its high point in fundraising came in 2008 when $5.71 million was raised with more than 25,000 participants. The amount raised this year is not available as of yet, but with sponsors such as Duane Reade, J.P. Moran, The New York Post, and other influential businesses, organizations and colleges/universities, last year $5.4 million was raised and $4.8 million was awarded in grants.
The event is one of the largest in New York City and one of the most successful races in the Komen series. It is also the largest series of 5k run/walk events that takes place in the world. With 140 events on five continents and over 1.6 million participants, the event raises significant funds and awareness to fight against breast cancer.