The Star-Herald

Hospital seeks champions, sponsors for Colors of Courage

PRESQUE ISLE, Maine — Community members will once again have the chance to support their family members, friends, and neighbors in their fight against cancer during the annual Colors of Courage event on Saturday, Sept. 7.  

Colors of Courage features both a 5K and 10K for runners and walkers.  The community event also includes a free children’s Fun Run and a champion lap.  New this year will be a free “Kid Zone” which will include inflatables and a variety of fun activities offered through a number of community partners and sponsorship by Northern Dispatch Energy.     

“This is a wonderful annual event that provides emotional support to many who have loved ones battling cancer or are doing so themselves, while also raising money to support Northern Light Cancer Care here in Presque Isle,” said Karen Gonya, communications manager and one of the coordinators of the event. 

“The stories that our champions and other participants share with us are incredibly touching and sometimes heartbreaking, but seeing their strength or hearing about the character of the loved one they are walking or running for really makes a difference.”

“Champions” are people, more than a dozen each year, who carry a Colors of Courage colored flag; the color of each flag represents a cancer that has affected the lives of those carrying it.  In some cases, the colored flag bearers have fought their own battle with cancer; in other cases, they are honoring or remembering a loved one touched by one of the forms of this deadly disease.  These champions, along with their supporters, will walk a special lap around the hospital campus with their flags to kick-off the event.  

Gonya herself was one of 17 champions last year, carrying a blue flag in honor of her two brothers who are both battling colon cancer. 

“While my brothers have traveled different roads in their treatment, it has been heartbreaking for the entire family.  It meant a lot to me to be able to show my love for my brothers and to celebrate their bravery on this difficult journey,” she said.  “By sharing their story, it was also a way to help make people aware of the importance of colonoscopies and early detection.”

Event coordinators are now looking for champions for this year’s event.  

“We invite people to reach out to us who may want to be a champion.  It is a powerful way to share a message of strength and character, whether it be your own personal story or that of a loved one. We then feature these stories on Facebook and our event website leading up to the Colors of Courage, as well as at the event itself,” explained Gonya.

Those interested in being a champion can contact Gonya at kgonya@northernlight.org  or 768-4012 to learn more.

In addition to raising awareness, Colors of Courage is a fundraiser for Northern Light Cancer Care.  All proceeds raised from the event, both through registration fees and sponsorships, go to this important service for cancer patients in Aroostook County.

Businesses or organizations who are interested in supporting this cause can contact Hollie Wolverton from the hospital’s foundation office at hwolverton@northernlight.org or 768-4250 to learn more.

Online registration is now open.  The cost for the 5K and 10K is $25 for adults and $15 for youth ages 8 to 17.  This cost includes an event shirt, which is guaranteed for those who register prior to Aug. 5. The Kids Fun Run (for children age 12 and under) and the champion lap, which are both held prior to the start of the 5K/10K, are free for participants. Children participating in the Fun Run and those 8 and under joining an adult on the 5K are at no charge and will not be eligible for shirts.

To register for the event, please go to www.northernlighthealth.org/colorsofcourage

Submitted by the Communications Office of Northern Light AR Gould Hospital.

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