Every July 4 for the past 13 years, the Hillsboro community — through the Tuality Healthcare Foundation’s Cancer Awareness & Treatment (CAT) 5K Walk & Fun Run — has come together with two primary goals: To honor those who have succumbed to cancer and to raise funds to help find better treatments and, perhaps, help the world move toward finding a cure.

Last week, 1,140 racers, joggers and walkers gathered at the Hillsboro Civic Center plaza to await the start of the event. Earlier, each contestant had paid $15 to $25 to register — all in an effort to raise funds to fight cancer, and simply to make a stand.

It’s amazing how many in our community have been directly affected by cancer through the loss of a spouse, friend, or family member, and it was touching to see so many runners with signs pinned to their T-shirts that read: “I am running in memory of ...” and the runner had filled in a name (or names) of someone he or she had lost.

That loss creates a special bond that hundreds of people have joined together to remember every Independence Day. And more than remember, people are determined to do what they can to fight back and turn their grief into solid action.

In speaking with a number of runners and organizers of the event, virtually all of them mentioned a personal connection to cancer as a key reason they were out there. Some had lost loved ones, while others had suffered through their own bouts with the disease.

Although its origins may have been spawned by pain or grief, this community event has become essentially a celebration — not only of those whose memories we are honoring, but of the spirit of citizens determined to organize and fight back against a disease that has claimed too many from our community and from around the world.

In the 13 years since it began, the CAT fun run event has pulled in approximately $685,000, all of which has gone to support cancer awareness and treatment programs in the Hillsboro community.

Tuality’s annual fundraiser may not be the biggest in the region, but it represents a stellar effort that brings people together, from all different backgrounds, to face a common foe in cancer.

We appreciate the efforts of all who have stood up to be involved in this yearly fun run: the Tuality Healthcare Foundation; this year’s major corporate sponsor, Genentech, and the many other business sponsors from around the area; the numerous volunteers; Whole Foods donating bagged lunches for the runners; the Hillsboro Police Department and the Washington County Sheriff’s Office, which provided officers on bicycles and motorcycles, closed the roads along the route and even provided a special touch with a motorcycle escort for the lead runner; and most of all, to the numerous runners and walkers of all ages who took time to try to make a difference, in whatever small way they could, in the fight against cancer.

It is very impressive that a number of individuals in their 70s and even their 80s took part in this year’s race, and we also appreciated seeing state Rep. Ben Unger giving of his time and energy to participate in the cause.

The 13th annual CAT Walk & Fun Run was a wonderful event for a vital endeavor, and we support and honor the efforts of all who were involved.

Contract Publishing

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