Woman looks to cross the country for cancer awareness
Charlotte Hall resident to participate in 4k for Cancer
A Charlotte Hall resident is raising awareness of cancer among young adults around the country by participating in the 4K for Cancer run with the Ul- man Cancer Fund.
Rebecca Howard, 23, will be joining a team of motivated young adults for 49 days in the Baltimore run, leaving from San Francisco’s Crissy Field on June 18 and finishing Aug. 5 at Federal Hill in Baltimore, to run more than 4,000 miles across the country this summer.
“I want to spread awareness about the 72,000 young adults who are diagnosed with can- cer each year and I just want to leave something behind in those communities about can- cer and how it really does affect everyone. I’m excited to be doing something that’s essentially bigger than myself. I decided to push myself and challenge myself in ways that I never have before,” Howard said.
She said she has a natural love for running but is really nervous, excited and anxious to begin training over forthcoming months. She is also seeking help from the local community to raise a total of $5,000 in donations for the Ulman Cancer Fund.
“I found out in October that I was accepted,” How- ard said. “It will be a team of 30 people running relay style from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. everyday while stopping in each community. The 4K for Cancer organiza- tion plans the route with people who welcome us so we will be staying in places like church halls and schools. You basically become a family during the trip.”
“It’s a great way to con- nect with other young adults and loved ones who have experienced cancer and do some community service events, share stories and get support,” said Maeve Koch, program coordinator of the Ulman Cancer Fund and 4K for Cancer. “We wanted to provide a unique experi- ence for the participants. We raise money and raise awareness of young adult cancer across the country which is kind of an un- derserved population in terms of resources they can use when they are going through a diagnosis. Rebecca became involved with us through our Can- cer to 5K program and she decided to go a step farther and do the 4K journey.”
The mission of the Ul- man Cancer Fund and the 4K for Cancer is to change lives by creating a community of support for young adults and their loved ones impacted by cancer. Doug Ulman was an active college student who was diagnosed with chondrosarcoma, a ma- lignant tumor located on a rib in his back. He and his family began the Ulman Cancer Fund in 2001 for young adults affected by cancer. In 2011 the 4K for Cancer and UCF officially merged into one organiza- tion. Since the merge, the 4K has raised millions of dollars in the fight against cancer.
Howard said during the 4K, runners will have the opportunity to visit hospi- tals working with cancer patients in order to give out care bags and schol- arships for young adults battling the disease. She said she is really excited about meeting these people, hearing their stories and hopefully providing them with hope as well as inspiration with what her team is doing.
She graduated from Queens University of Charlotte in 2015 and has worked in marketing, planning and community outreach with companies such as Madison House Autism Foundation and AmeriCorps VISTA. She currently works for the Maryland Department of Legislative Services in Annapolis.
Howard has a history of melanoma in her family and is participating in the run in memory of her late grandfather and in honor of her dad who have both been affected by the dis- ease.
“My grandfather passed away from melanoma while I was in college and I never got to say good- bye. My father was also di- agnosed with melanoma twice and has survived. I was scared that I would be diagnosed with it as well because it runs in my family. That is why I al- ways wanted to do some- thing related to a cancer fund and a cross country trip that has meaning,” she said.
“My husband’s father passed away from mela- noma as well,” said her mother, Mary Ellen How- ard. “Seeing my father-in law going through that was tough. But he fought it as best he could. It was in his lungs and brain by the time he died. My hus- band had it on his chest and back and the doctors removed two spots tested for melanoma. Rebecca understands the serious- ness of the disease and as a young adult she can relate to young adults more right now who are going through this.”
Mary Ellen said during the 4K for Cancer, her daughter will really find out what she’s made of.
Rebecca’s brother Robert Burnett was in the military and then upon returning home he participated in many fundraiser runs with the Ulman Cancer Fund. He said Rebecca will be the first in the family to participate in the 4K for Cancer.
“I think by being involved in this run its going to really open her eyes to the way that you can make a difference and better other people’s life,” Burnett said. “It’s going to be a challenge but I think the great thing about it is having survivors and people currently battling cancer will really put things in perspective for her. As much as her legs will be hurting there is somebody right now fighting for their life with cancer. It will put that hurt in perspective.”
Burnett said his sister will build relationships that will last a lifetime and learn the importance of giving and sensitivity that society has lost.
Howard begins the 4K for Cancer training program in January and will be holding several fundraisers in the next few months, including a bone marrow donor drive, to help raise additional funds for the 4K run by May. For more information, go to https://ulman.z2systems.com/rebecca-howard.
Charlotte Hall resident Rebecca Howard, 23, begins training for the Ulman Cancer Fund and 4K for Cancer this summer.