Main Event: Sun run raises hefty sum for melanoma research
Raising awareness of the sun's danger and supporting melanoma research, more than 880 people participated in the 11th annual Stay out of the Sun Runon May 20. The event included 5K and 10K runs and a walk, which all started and ended at Lourdes High School and raised about $33,000 for the SOS Foundation for Melanoma Research and Education.
For Tim Burriss, race founder and director, it was a time to reflect on his 20 years of surviving melanoma and his stepping down from 11 years of coordinating the annual event.
"It's time to turn it over," he said. " Tiffany Piotrowicz, owner of TerraLoco, will do a great job."
Burriss expressed his gratitude to the local businesses who "have done so much for me," and to his oncologist, Dr. Svetimor Markovic.
"So many of his patients are here tonight," he said. "They come for him. He's an incredible guy. Words cannot express what he has meant to me."
Markovic, who has chaired the melanoma program at Mayo Clinic, said "It's wonderful to see the energy of the community come to this."
"Melanoma is very rare," he explained. "It's the rarest form of skin cancer, but responsible for 90 percent of skin cancer deaths. Until very recently, it was completely incurable. But since 2010, there has been a series of new drugs that have brought hope in this field. Fortunately today, we do a lot better."
Attendee Robyn Johnsonwas diagnosed with melanoma at age 41. She is a patient of Dr. Markovic's.
"I call him my quarterback," she said. "He arranged all the specialists for me. He's a brilliant man. I feel so blessed that I found him."
Team Mama Brama were walking in honor of Angie Brama, who passed away at age 55 in 2007.
"We're all honoring what a wonderful person she was," said Angie's daughter Flora, along with her sister Gina.
Angie was also a patient of Dr. Markovic's. Her daughters were appreciative of him and his staff.
"The quality of patient care and the human aspect of patient care, the cutting edge technology and progressive treatments translate to longer life," Flora said. "They are so dedicated, and not just concerned with quantity of life, but with quality as well."
Race participants Elizabethand Mark Enningawere running the 5K. Elizabeth works in a lab doing melanoma research.
"It's fun to see all the people out here supporting each other in a common goal," she said.
Mark Enninga was wearing a T-shirt stating, "I'm all about NED … No Evidence of Disease."
Team Thisters Won, Thisters True, a group of eight women, came to the event, to celebrate survival.
"In a two-month period in 2014, four of us were diagnosed with cancer," Joni Terharksaid. "Three with breast cancer and myself with melanoma."
Amy Krahn, Liz Koehler, Stephanie Koenig, and Kate Bartonwere part of Barton's Bunch, a team of more than 20 people running in memory of Paul Barton, who passed away in 2013 from melanoma.
"It means a lot having the support, it's emotional," said Kate, Paul's daughter. "Spiritually, it feels good. It's part of the healing process."
Team B-Rad, a 19-member group, came to support two-year melanoma survivor Brad Wytaske.
"This is all family," he said. "I feel blessed they are all here. The best part is everyone getting together to support this."
For more information, including a message from race founder Tim Burriss reminding everyone to always protect themselves from the sun, visit www.sosrun.org .