Academy cadets help race for the cure

  • Published
  • By Ann Patton
  • U.S. Air Force Academy Public Affairs
More than 150 U.S. Air Force Academy cadets here helped raise more than $540,000 to screen, treat and educate patients and research a cure for breast cancer during the September Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure in Colorado Springs, Colo.

Volunteer race director Gay Harrison, an Academy Class of 1984 alumna, was not surprised at the cadets' willingness to help out.

"All around, cadets set the energy for the race," said the retired lieutenant colonel. "Of our 500 volunteers this year, the impact of the 150 cadets was to energize us all."

Cadets pitched in on race day from 4 a.m. to 2 p.m. to direct traffic in darkness, work the information tent, unload refreshment products, assist in stage recognition of the survivors and direct more than 7,000 participants through the race course by manning water stations, the finish line and on buses.

"Their enthusiasm and service before self was great," said Mr. Harrison, who serves as deputy for the Academy Admissions Liaison Division.

Cadets also worked all day the day before the race setting up for the race. They also worked during the Saturday "Pooches in Pink" when 300 dogs and their owners took part in a walk that launched the weekend's festivities.

Cadets of Squadron 11 chose the Race for the Cure as their community service event last year when they learned a family member of a squadron staff member was a survivor. Mr. Harrison said virtually the entire squadron turned out this year to volunteer.

Cadets from other squadrons also lent a hand.

Cadet 2nd Class Laura Cusimano of Cadet Squadron 39 helped with planning and coordinating volunteers before and during the race day. She also helped with set-up and execution of events.

"The Race for the Cure is an outstanding organization with a real, tangible goal of raising money for breast cancer research," she said. "I don't mind giving a weekend of my time in order to help raise money to cure a disease which destroys so many lives. That's so much bigger than me."

Cadet 3rd Class Kurt Brill of Cadet Squadron 11 controlled the finish line flow and cheered on racers through the finish.

He became involved when he learned of a squadron family member was a survivor and was happy to donate his time.

"Raising money to help local people fight disease is definitely worth it," he said.

October is breast cancer awareness month and awareness of its risks is key to saving lives. Nationally, one of every eight women will develop breast cancer in their lifetime. The national Susan G. Komen Foundation helps save lives all over the world. The Colorado Springs affiliate helps women, and men, in El Paso, Pueblo and Teller Counties. Seventy-five percent of the net dollars stay in those counties.

Nationally, the foundation has granted more than $1 billion to fight the disease.