The fourth running of the Community Cares 5K and 1 mile fun run will be held Feb. 16. This year’s race, “Caring for Chris,” will benefit Chris Aaland, assistant director of athletics for communications for Fort Lewis College, who recently underwent heart surgery.
Begun in 2010, it has become one of Durango’s premier fundraisers benefiting locals who have endured difficult times.
The idea took root when race director Ken Flint approached First Baptist Church pastor Jeff Dobesh with the suggestion: “Why don’t we partner with the city and put on this race for Teddy (Rodd).”
At that time, 10-year-old Teddy was undergoing treatment for cancer.
“(Dobesh) loved the idea, we told the family and they were touched by it. That was the kickoff,” Flint said
“There is no formalized process to choosing the recipient,” Flint said. “We just try to find someone in our community who is going through a tough time and might have medical needs or issues.”
The first year saw a record 373 participants, and the event continues to attract about 250 each year, having raised between $4,500 and $7,700 annually. Because it is a fundraiser, it attracts a lot of participants who typically contribute more than the $10 suggested donation.
SueB Earl was the 2011 recipient. Diagnosed with leukemia in 2010, she traveled to Virginia for chemotherapy treatments before finally going into remission and receiving a bone marrow transplant from her sister.
“Being in the hospital for nine months isn’t cheap,” Earl said. “The out-of-pocket expenses were huge, I was so far away and needed 24/7 care, so people were always flying here. It was a logistical miracle how they were able to take care of my kids here and me out there.”
Earl vaguely remembers mention of the race as she was pretty sick then, but credits her family and friends for keeping her connected to Durango happenings.
“I’m so happy and comforted by people rallying for me in Durango,” she said. “Honestly, I had no ability to keep tabs on what was going on.”
Earl feels healthy now and is back into her normal routine.
“I feel good. I get fatigued, but who knows if that’s from being 50-something or being a bone marrow-transplant survivor. I don’t have any restrictions, and I’m not taking any medications,” she said. “ ... It wasn’t easy. I had a rough start, but now I’m doing well.”
Local Four Corners radio personality Bruce Anderson was the 2012 recipient of the Community Cares money. Anderson suffered a massive stroke in 2011 and, as a result, lost functioning on his left side. A tireless volunteer for many local causes, it is unusual for him to be on the receiving end.
“It’s a wonderful thing,” Anderson said “It’s great to see the community get together behind something like this and support it. Someday, I hope to be a major part of it instead of on the recipient end.”
So lace up your running shoes and enjoy a morning run, jog or stroll on the Animas River trail.
Reach Marjorie Brinton at firstname.lastname@example.org.