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By Karen Crowley Metzinger MA '97
Team Bradley Captain
When Bradley employee Chris Wells started a small but mighty Race for the Cure team on campus following her initial breast cancer diagnosis in 2001, she never dreamed that eight years later she would be battling her cancer again, this time fighting alongside Joanne Glasser, Bradley’s president. With Chris in the midst of chemo and President Glasser recovering from radiation treatment, Team Bradley took to the streets around the Metro Center to honor them and all Bradley University breast cancer survivors in the 24th annual Komen Peoria Race for the Cure.
Bradley’s 187-member team, the largest out of 306 teams in the 2009 race, held Packet Pickup on campus on May 7, and sponsored the first annual Pink Bake Sale in the Michel Student Center. As of Race Day on May 9, faculty, staff, students, alumni, and community members had raised $3,800 to help the Komen organization meet its $1.1 million goal.
“I am very much looking forward to participating in this important event and joining my fellow cancer survivors and friends to support cancer research and find a cure for this dreadful disease,” said Glasser while enjoying a 6 a.m. breakfast of bagels, coffee, and juice in the Michel Student Center atrium. After boarding chartered buses at 6:30 a.m., a group of Bradley cancer survivors joined her in the survivors’ walk at 7:20. Standing in a sea of pink visors, hats, and T-shirts, Glasser was overwhelmed by her first experience as a race participant.
“I had no idea of what to expect,” said Glasser. “I wasn’t prepared for the intensity of my emotions. Last year I was out of town for the race, so this is my first experience of wearing the pink survivor shirt, surrounded by so many women wearing pink, my fellow survivors. And to think, from out of more than 20,000 people at the race what were the chances that I’d run into my radiation nurse, my angel, Ashley…it was just too much. I am completely overcome with emotion.”
While being bused back to campus, many participants commented about the emotional impact the race had on them this year as members of Team Bradley.
Bradley employee Eileen Benne, who battled the disease almost two years ago, commented, “My sister was diagnosed a year ago, and she is walking this year with my mom and me. The support of family and BU friends and co-workers takes me through this journey. Today a 30-year survivor stood on one side of me, and a woman currently going through chemo stood on the other side of me during a very emotional survivor walk. We all support each another and share it through tears and hugs. But I smile when I see the crowd cheering for us, knowing that I am a survivor.”
Lauren DiSandro ’11 said the 5K race was the most uplifting race she had ever run. “I have run in a lot of 5K races, and I’m glad I got out of bed early, ran the race and didn’t find any excuses. It was the most friendly, open environment. Women should support this cause of all causes.”Although not strong enough to race for the cure this year, Chris Wells was with the team in spirit. “My daughter and my sister were there, but I just couldn’t do it this year. I started the team because I wanted to make a difference eight years ago. Next year will be different for me. From what I’ve gone through, I know how much President Glasser and the Bradley family cares, and by setting little goals for myself, I’ll be back on Team Bradley next year.”