Fired Up again to stop breast cancer in its tracks

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Fired up for a Cure featured road races, Zumba – and pink fire trucks.
Fired up for a Cure featured road races, Zumba – and pink fire trucks.

The second annual Fired up for a Cure event at the Roanoke Civic Center had attracted less than 50 runners or walkers for the 5k and 10K races by August 31, but by the time it took place last Saturday more than 300 were ready to go.

Fired up for a Cure, also held elsewhere around the country, is the brainchild locally of Roanoke City Fire-EMS. It’s designed to raise money for cancer research and to focus on awareness for the disease. The department brought several large ladder vehicles to Fired Up and welcomed Chesapeake’s “famous” pink fire truck, which also was part of the program last year.

In addition to free mammogram signups there were plenty of events to keep race participants and others amused, like giant Zumba classes and rows of product vendors. There was also free ice skating offered inside the adjacent Civic Center coliseum.

Tiffany Bradbury, the Fire Prevention Specialist and public relations coordinator for Roanoke Fire-EMS, said last year’s Fired up for a Cure raised about $6000 for cancer research; she was hoping for that much or more this time around. Bradbury said cancer survivors, their family members and even those still fighting the disease came out to walk or run the races.

“Amazing weather, an amazing group brought together to support [people] that have had breast cancer,” said Bradbury, a former Channel 10 news personality who was trying her hand at Zumba along with another hundred or so, as the instructors led the way from a Roanoke City Parks & Recreation portable stage.

Outdoor events specialist Joe Hanning, very visible at many races held in the city recently, acted as emcee for the races, which also included a children’s Fun Run. Channel 10 WSLS co-sponsored the event as well.

Several firefighters in the city have passed away from cancer in recent times. “[The cause] is very close to our hearts,” noted Bradbury, “and we wanted to help our community.”

Fired up for a Cure also provided Roanoke Fire-EMS the opportunity to talk about fire safety. “All you see is a sea of pink,” said Bradbury, noting the color of the day, for women and many men. “It brings a tear to your eye.”

The 5k and 10k courses (3.1 and 6.2 miles, respectively) wound their way from the Civic Center parking lot to the Lick Run Greenway for a short stretch, before heading back towards downtown streets. A hike (or run) up the steep Martin Luther King Jr. Bridge was one of the more challenging features.

Among those who walked the 5K course was Cindy Shields of Roanoke, who was diagnosed with breast cancer in February. Luckily that detection was made early – Shields gets a mammogram every year and this time it paid off. The surgery needed was minimal and she’s back on her feet, telling as many as women of a certain age as she can to get their annual mammogram examinations.

“I was very early stage,” said Shields, who was treated at Carilion Roanoke Memorial. She appreciated Fired up for the Cure and the focus it put on breast cancer. “I think its wonderful – women really need to think about how important it is [to have regular examinations]. I’m amazed at how many women don’t. Its traumatic no matter what, but if its caught early, the chances of it being minor [increase].”

It’s a lot of work for Tiffany Bradbury and the few others than planned Fired up for a Cure, but she sees the event gaining some momentum. “We definitely think it will be back next year.”

By Gene Marrano