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Main Event: Fun run shines a light on melanoma

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Chilly temperatures did not deter the nearly 800 people who attended the 12th annual Stay Out of the Sun Run, May 19 at Lourdes High School. The 5K, 10K, and walk event, hosted by TerraLoco, raised $30,000 for the Stay Out of the Sun Foundationto benefit the Mayo Clinic Cancer Centerfor melanoma research and education.

This was the first year for Tiffany Piotrowiczof TerraLoco to serve as race coordinator. Tim Burriss, founder of the SOS Run, stepped down as coordinator after last year's event to spend more time with family. He attended the event, and said he was happy Piotrowicz is "keeping the cause going. It's a great fit, a win-win for everyone. She's done a great job."

Participants arrived well before race time to browse silent auction items, visit informational booths, and connect with fellow runners. Doctors and nurses from Mayo Clinic were again offering free skin cancer checks to racers and their supporters.

Bill Nevalavolunteered his time as announcer for the run, and provided commentary and the names of runners as they passed the finish line. It was Nevala's 10th year announcing the SOS Run. He announces for the Med-City Marathon as well.

"I do this just for the fun and enjoyment of seeing so many great people working so hard," he said.

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Prior to the start of the race, survivors of melanoma gathered together for the traditional survivor's photo.

Sue Couture,of Northfield, was one of those who participated in the photo. This was Couture's second time at SOS Run. She said it is important to support the event, and that her particular concern is for children of melanoma patients, as they have a greater risk of developing it themselves.

"I have a young daughter," she said. "So this is important to me."

Many of the walkers were part of teams, and wore T-shirts that expressed their reason for attending the event.

"Cody's Crew" was a team of 20 family members there to support Erin Olson, wife of Cody Olson, who passed away from melanoma at the age of 24. It was their fourth year to attend the SOS Run.

"I'm starting to see people I recognize from previous years," Erin said. "I love the support here."

Meg Gilligan, along with her 10-year-old daughter Molly, ran the 5K. Meg is a 13-year melanoma survivor. She said she takes extra precautions now to protect herself from the sun.

"Yeah, I'm the sunscreen queen now," she said.

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Char Petrichattended the event with her husband, and her friend, Laura Dohlman. Petrich ran the 10K. "This is a race we do every year," she said. "It's part of my training for the Med-City Marathon."

"It's my first time at SOS Run," Dohlman said. "I'm also training for the half. Plus, I like local races that benefit our community."

Liz Hansenwas with "Jay's Melahomies," a group walking in support of Hansen's husband Jay, who was diagnosed at age 37.

"I was diagnosed two years ago," Jay said. "I'm walking to support research for a cure. And we have two children that are fair-skinned. I want to make sure they are taken care of."

Dr. Svetomir Markovic, medical oncologist at Mayo Clinic, attends the event each year. He works with melanoma patients.

"Melanoma is not just another skin cancer," he said. "It is extraordinarily deadly. People need to know the risk factors and how to protect themselves. Wear sunscreen with SPF 30. Avoid the sun's rays between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. Wear a wide-brimmed hat and sun protective clothing. Number one: Don't burn."

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Friends, coworkers and family attend in supprt of survivor Megan Lindell, second row, fourth from left, of Rochester.

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