.By Elsie Lynn The Colchester Sun
Most folks think about the colors of fall in Vermont and think about the reds, golds, yellows and oranges of the turning leaves. But at Bayside Park in Colchester the color is PINK.
Almost 300 registered participants turned up on Saturday morning for the second annual 5K run/walk hosted by Colchester CANsur-vive. This is a team of town employees, friends and family working together to raise awareness and funds for Making Strides Against Breast Cancer. This year, according to team captain Robin Perry, the team raised $5,335 for Making Strides.
“We have an amazing team and great support from the community and local businesses,” Perry said on Tuesday. “So many people have a connection to the cause and it showed in the turnout. This event and our fundraising events are our way of fighting back and doing something about this. I think that’s probably why this is such a powerful event. People don’t want to just sit back and take a cancer diagnosis or watch their loved one go through it; they want to do something about it.”
This year, Colchester CANsur-vive rallied around the Nearys. Cathy Neary was diagnosed with stage 4 breast cancer in September of last year, which was her third diagnosis since 2003. Cathy participated in the first annual Pink Out The Park last October, with the positive outlook, sense of humor and hugs everyone knew her by.
“Although she fought valiantly, sadly Cathy lost her final battle and passed away this past April,” reported her husband Jim.
This year’s the CANsur-vive team dedicated their efforts to Cathy.
Jim and their daughter Krista are members of the Colchester team; their son Tim lives in Colorado, so he unfortunately cannot join the events. Krista ran the 5K Saturday, and they’re looking forward to Sunday’s big Making Strides event at Dorset Park in South Burlington.
Cathy’s parents, George and Louise Fillmann of South Burlington, and her sister Denise Cincotta, of Essex Junction, are all members of Colchester CANsur-vive as well.
“We currently have 25 team members (and growing) comprised of family and good friends, with many co-workers of Cathy’s from the town offices and Burnham library,” Jim continued. “This outpouring of support is humbling, and to me it shows how Cathy was not only an inspiration to many but so well liked, and I know she was fun to be around.”
Though Jim says he’s not comfortable speaking in front of crowds, he couldn’t let the moment pass by Saturday. He addressed the crowd to thank the employees of the town for their generosity and support of Cathy, himself and his family over this past year and especially the past six months.
“We’ve always been so proud to be part of the Colchester community,” he said. “Everyone there was there because breast cancer has affected someone close to them. So I also wanted to give people a sense that although Cathy was a survivor for 11 years, and courageously faced down the disease three times since 2003, it has a way of ruining happy endings and how deeply sad we were that Cathy lost her final battle in April. But that their participation shows a determination to run this disease down until it can no longer take away the people we love.”
Jim extended a special thank you to team captain Parry, who is also a survivor. “She has really done a fantastic job of bringing us together for this cause again.”
Colchester CANsur-vive is on track to raise $12,000 this year for Making Strides, which is at least $1,000 more than last year.
Jim encourages everyone to join in the fight against breast cancer at the Making Strides event on the 19th.
“Just a year ago, Cathy was proud to be on the team and at the Making Strides walk,” he remembered. “She was joyfully handing out the hugs that she was famous for. So I encourage everyone to give a hug, donate to our team, walk and make a difference.”