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Runners brave the cold at cancer benefit

January 10, 2018
By CHUCK BALLARO ( , North Fort Myers Neighbor

Weather may have put a chill on the third annual Tara Woods Facial Hair for Cancer Causes event but, thanks to hot coffee and commitment, the event stepped off as scheduled Saturday despite temperatures in the 40s as the sun rose.

The annual 5K and 10K races were joined this year by a two-mile walk for the first time, with more than 70 athletes joining in to help raise money for a good cause.

Marie Springsteen, founder and president of 4 Words Foundation, one of the beneficiaries of the event, said the idea of the fundraiser is to support all kinds of cancer, but especially cancers incurred primarily by men.

Article Photos

Runners for the 10K run get started at the Facial Hair for Cancer Causes event on Saturday at Tara Woods.


"We pay more attention to men's cancer because the conversation got lost. Nobody talks about their cancers, but they have the same needs," said Springsteen, a cancer survivor. "By starting to talk about it, they start to take more awareness of their health."

Ann Francis, operations manager at 21st Century CARE, was raffling off numerous items donated by local businesses, which seemed to be a busy place.

"We do a lot of publication and get the word out at all events. We have bases we send the news to," Francis said. "We're hoping that the cold gets people out to run and warm up."

The chill didn't keep the Pink Heals fire truck from coming out nor did it keep WINK-TV personality Corey Lazar at home.

Lazar, who has emceed the event for the third straight year since it means so much to him, is also a cancer survivor.

"When Marie approached me about doing this event, I said yes right away because it takes these smaller local events and organizations to make an impact in people's lives," Lazar said. "You can touch a lot of different people."

While there were many runners who did the race to test themselves, others took it more seriously as it was being timed.

Brendan Paladino, a cross-country runner from Estero High School, won the 5K race with a time of 17:29, beating teammate Edgar Laureano.

"I saw a good cause and thought I would support that. It's something that needs to be taken care of and we need to support it," Paladino said. "It was more windy than cold because you get warm running."

Justin Sanchez of Cape Coral was the 10K winner with a time of 41:15. He said he tries to run races for a cause.

"I know several people who had cancer, my brother-in-law has brain cancer and they're not sure if he'll make it; anything I can do to help the cause," Sanchez said. "I like running for charitable causes whenever I can."

4 Words Foundation provides cancer awareness, education and patient financial assistance to those without insurance, or to those with insurance who cannot afford the costs required by their health insurance to ensure they receive cancer screenings, additional imaging, or diagnostic procedures needed.

21st Century CARE provides financial assistance for incidental expenses related to transportation, follow-up visits related to cancer-care, childcare, temporary housing due to geographical distance from the treatment center, medical supplies and more.



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