GREAT FALLS — October marks Breast Cancer Awareness Month. According to the CDC, close to 240,000 cases of breast cancer are diagnosed in women and about 2,100 in men. About 42,000 women and 500 men in the U.S. die each year from breast cancer.
An event, called 'Big Sky Big Strides Against Breast Cancer 5K will be hosted by the Pathwise Group where people can participate in a 5K walk/run as a way of showing support for those who survived, those who passed, and those who continue to fight their battle.
The event was hosted for the first time at Gibson Park in October 2022.
Organizer Colleen Barley said, "We realized there wasn't much going on in the area for Breast Cancer Awareness, so we wanted to find something special to do. We couldn't find any 5k's or races going on at the time, so we figured, why don't we organize our own."
Last year, over a hundred attendees participated, despite inclement weather. As the event received positive feedback, it's an opportunity to make it an annual tradition.
"It was really inspiring to see how many people in the local community came together to fundraise, to sponsor the race, and to come out to walk and run in the pouring rain last year," Barley said. "It was amazing to see how many people came together in the local community, so we are so excited to do it again this year."
Colleen was inspired by her close friend Annie Brown, who won her battle against breast cancer two years ago.
"It was very unexpected," Brown said. "I had no family history of it. I identified a lump and sought treatment. Then, I instantly had surgery, and had all of my follow up care at Sletten (Benefis Sletten Cancer Institute).
With Brown's experience working as a nurse, she said she recognized the importance of having a facility like Sletten, along with having resources for those who are going through cancer treatment.
Brown said, "Sletten has been so warm and so inviting, and such a great resource in Great Falls. They have well-trained, experienced professionals between their physicians, their nurses, their lab techs, and even their radiology. You can have everything done in one day. You're also surrounded in this peaceful, calming environment. Staff are very supportive, and very comforting. Overall, I think it's a wonderful facility to have here."
The second annual Big Sky Big Strides Against Breast Cancer will take place at Gibson Park on Saturday, October 14th at 10am. All proceeds will support the Benefis Sletten Cancer Institute.
The event is free to participate. Well behaved, leashed furry friends are also welcome.
There will be awards for "fastest man," "fastest woman," and "fastest dog".
For more information, click here to visit the Facebook event page. You can also reserve your race t-shirt in advance by emailing Colleen: email@example.com