HARRISONBURG — On Saturday morning, Retha Reed, 85, of Harrisonburg, got up at the same time she always does — but that morning she was getting ready to walk over 3 miles to raise funds for breast cancer care and treatment.
She was accompanied by her granddaughter, Casey Reed, of Harrisonburg, at the 17th annual Race to Beat Breast Cancer, a fundraiser for the RMH Foundation to support patients at Sentara RMH Medical Center.
Retha Reed is not only a double breast cancer survivor, but is also blind.
“I’m still here,” she said.
Reed was first diagnosed with breast cancer in 1994 and again in 2008.
“An event like this for our family just shows the love and support that Harrisonburg as a city has,” Casey Reed said. “This many people coming together for one cause — it’s beautiful — it shows there’s a lot of love in a world that seems to have a lot of hate sometimes.”
Other assorted Reed family members also participated in the 5K walk/run, which started and ended in Westover Park, said Casey Reed.
And the Reed family was among 780 people who registered for the run, according to Erik Dart, athletics and special events manager for the city of Harrisonburg.
“It’s the biggest event ever,” he said. “It’s grown over the last three years pretty consistently, but this year was about a 100-person jump from last year.”
Dart said the city is working to reach 1,000 participants.
“Year by year, we’ll get there,” he said.
Community support has helped to grow the event, said Dart, who was one of the people who started the annual run/walk 17 years ago.
“We saw there wasn’t an event like this in the area where that your funds went directly back into the community,” he said. “A lot [of other events' funds] go nationally, and they’re all good beneficiaries but we wanted to see everything stay local.”
October is Breast Cancer Awareness month. Breast cancer is the second most common cancer for women in the country, with an estimated 268,800 being diagnosed with the disease every year, according to the American Society of Clinical Oncology.
Sadia Kullane, of Ashburn, came to Harrisonburg just to do the 5K with her daughter, Hodan Mohamed, a freshman at James Madison University and member of the Zeta Tau Alpha sorority.
Mohamed said many of her mother’s friends have been diagnosed with breast cancer.
“I do it for my friends,” Kullane said. “My husband has been diagnosed with colon cancer so it’s something we’re all fighting together.”
Mohamed said her mother inspired her to do the 5K.
“If my mom’s going to do it, I’m going to do it with her,” she said.
And for Retha Reed, the breast cancer 5K is just another thing to do. A few years ago it was horseback riding, and next up is riding a bicycle, Casey Reed said.
“Do you have anybody else out here over 85?” Retha Reed said with a laugh.