RICHFIELD, Minn. (WCCO) – Hundreds took to the pavement Sunday morning at Veteran’s Park in Richfield, celebrating National Cancer Survivors Day with a 5K and one mile run/walk.
Sunday’s event put a spotlight on cancer survivors, honoring the dozens in attendance prior to the race’s opening horn.
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“To be able to celebrate that with other people who have gone through the same thing, it’s a great feeling,” said Shelly Wirth, a Lakeville mother of four who beat breast cancer after being diagnosed in 2019. “It’s one of those groups you don’t want to belong to, but when you do, it’s just a special connection with those other survivors.”
Wirth’s reason for being at Sunday’s event, titled Hope in Motion, was twofold. In addition to celebrating with those who’ve beaten cancer, she also intended to support others currently battling the disease.
Hosted by Minnesota Oncology, the proceeds from Sunday’s event went to Minnesota’s Angel Foundation – a nonprofit group that helps provide financial and emotional support to families impacted by cancer.
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The group’s founder and CEO, Dave Becker, says they’ll give out more than $1 million in 2022 in assistance for groceries, utilities, gas and mortgage payments.
“When you’re going through cancer, it’s expensive. A lot of times, people are out of work, so you have one individual in the household that may not be working that was working, so there’s lost income. Helping with the financial assistance is really important,” Becker said. “Cancer patients are 2 ½ times more likely to go bankrupt than anyone else.”
During her fight against cancer, Wirth says the Angel Foundation gifted her an Angelpack, a free gift that turned her on to the organization. After that, she says Angel Foundation helped her family with gas and grocery cards, in addition to providing trips to local sporting events for her family.
Now cancer-free, Wirth is an advocate for the organization.
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“I overcame cancer. I overcame all the obstacles, the chemo, the surgeries, everything that goes with it,” she said. “The Angel Foundation is always going to be a part of my life. Cancer is always going to be there in my life, so I’d love to do whatever I can to be an advocate.”