Some came to race, and some came to walk, but virtually everyone among the 1,140 entrants at the July 4 CAT (Cancer Awareness and Treatment) 5K Walk & Fun Run appeared to share a commitment to do what they could to battle cancer.

And for many of the 1,140 participating this year, the fight was personal.

Teresa Dunham was just one of the hundreds of entrants headed toward the starting line at the Hillsboro Civic Center plaza on the sunny holiday morning, but her motivation to show support for the cause seemed typical among those who gathered for the event.

“I’m doing it just to help out,” said Dunham. “I lost my mom to cancer. Mentally, participating in the race helps out a lot.”

Melanie Johnson, coordinator of the Tuality Healthcare Foundation and organizer of the annual fun run, said the event is geared to benefit cancer awareness and treatment programs.

“The turnout is right in line with last year,” said Johnson, who noted that she lost an uncle to cancer. “This is our 13th year, and there has been a little growth every year.”

This year, race registration fees and other donations brought in $72,000 to go toward cancer treatment and research.

“We’ve used some of it for a lung cancer screening program and a new breast health care center,” explained Gerry Ewing, director of corporate communications for Tuality.

Ewing pointed out that since the annual fun run and walk began 13 years ago, the event has raised approximately $685,000 for the cause. All proceeds go to the Tuality Foundation for cancer research and facilities.

The run started at 7:30 a.m., and hundreds of runners, clad in blue “CAT Fun Run” T-shirts, crowded into the plaza as they waited to get started on the 3.1-mile route that winds along North First Avenue and meanders through a series of neighborhoods around Northeast Jackson before continuing to Northeast Cornell Road and finally back to East Main Street.

Ewing said the CAT Walk & Fun Run is an increasingly popular event in the Hillsboro community.

“Last year, we set a record for entrants, and we’re close to that this year,” he pointed out.

Even though the 5K run was primarily a fundraiser for a good cause, that doesn’t mean many people didn’t take the race seriously and go all-out.

Case in point: This year’s race winner, Matt Klein, crossed the finish line in a time of 15 minutes, 30 seconds.

Klein, a Portland resident, said he always runs to win.

“This is a great race,” said Klein, 22. “It’s the fastest I’ve ever run a 5K. But I never have a time goal; I’m just trying to win.”

Klein said he started running in college, and has found a competitive fire.

“I want to see how fast I can go, and I’m hoping to get a sponsorship,” he said.

Despite his fiercely competitive spirit when it comes to running, Klein said he takes the cancer fight personally.

“I survived a bout of melanoma a couple years ago, and my grandmother had breast cancer,” said Klein. “Cancer is a rough thing. I’ve seen friends and family members with it, and a lot of times it hits them out of nowhere.”

In the fall, Klein will be enrolled at the Western University of Health Sciences in Pomona, Calif., pursuing a degree in physical therapy.

“I’m studying physical therapy because my goal is to keep myself and other people healthy,” he said. “Staying active can lower cancer rates. It’s so difficult to treat, so I really want to focus on preventative medicine.”

Ethan McChristian, who lives in Indiana, was another of the top finishers.

“I’m visiting my mom here,” McChristian said. “It was fun. I liked the run. I don’t live here, but really like what the organizers are doing.”

Runners were literally of all ages, from babies being pushed in strollers by their mother or father to people well into their golden years. The day’s oldest runners were both Hillsboro residents.

The oldest woman to compete was Reba Clemens, 89. She completed the 5K with a time of 1:05:12; while the oldest man taking part was Buel Liming, 80. He finished the race in 54 minutes and 40 seconds, and talked about his motivation afterward.

“I’ve been a runner for 65 years,” Liming said. “I ran a 10-mile race here in Hillsboro 40 years ago and took first place. There were only about 15 runners then. This is a mob!”

Liming said it’s difficult for him to run because he is dealing with some health problems, but he was determined to compete.

“I have diabetes, and running helps burn off my blood sugar,” Liming said. “And I have Parkinson’s ... staying active keeps the tremors down.”

Despite his health issues, Liming said he was determined to participate this year.

“I love to run,” he said. “I just turned 80 in June, and wanted to run one more race.”

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