John Russell's sports column appears Tuesdays in Steamboat Today. Contact him at 871-4209 or email jrussell@SteamboatToday.com.
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Steamboat Springs In January 2003, Susie Allen got the news that no woman wants to hear. She had breast cancer.
“Early detection is so important, and it saved my life,” Allen said. “I caught it with a mammogram.”
Allen was diagnosed with an aggressive form of cancer and was forced to undergo radiation and chemotherapy treatments in an effort to defeat the disease. That was 10 years ago, and she is cancer free today.
But Allen’s battle with cancer is far from over, and just because she beat it doesn’t mean she’s ready to stop fighting. She’s not alone.
She follows in the footsteps of Linda Danter, who started the Rally for the Cure Golf Tournament in Steamboat Springs 14 years ago. The tournament now is carried on by Robin Crossan. Today, most of the money raised at the event stays in Routt County and supports the Yampa Valley Breast Cancer Awareness Project.
This year, Allen joined the battle when she got together a few local residents and businesses to host the first Rally for the Cure tennis and pickleball tournament. The event was supported by Jim and Stacy Swiggart, who provided courts; Qdoba Mexican Grill, which provided food; Edward Jones; and Wyndham Vacation Rentals. The event, which was held Aug. 24, raised about $5,300.
Not bad for the first year, but Allen is hoping the grass-roots event will continue to grow into the future.
The money will go to the Rally for the Cure Foundation and to Susan G. Komen for scientific research and a search for better treatments and, hopefully someday, a cure.
But this event is about more than just raising money for research or supporting Rally for the Cure. Those are important, but Allen hopes the event will continue to remind women to be vigilant when it comes to doing self-exams and making mammograms part of their health routines.
“If all we do is remind women to get a mammogram, that’s fine with me,” Allen said. “Who knows? It could save a life.”
It’s that type of thinking that makes this Rally for the Cure event and the golf tournament so special. Both were started by local women looking out for other women, and both events are about having a good time.
But they also have a serious side. It’s hard to find anyone who has not been touched by breast cancer in some way. One in eight women will be diagnosed with breast cancer during their lifetimes, according to the National Breast Cancer Foundation. The foundation reports that 220,000 women in the U.S. will be diagnosed this year, and more than 40,000 of them will die. Although breast cancer is rare in men, it also is estimated that 2,150 men will be diagnosed.
It’s easy to be overwhelmed by fundraising efforts in a town like Steamboat Springs. Fundraising events seem to be everywhere, and all of the causes seem to be important. But this event is the perfect example of one with an impact that goes beyond raising money. If it reminds or encourages just one woman to take steps for early prevention, then it’s a success, according to Allen.
I applaud the women and men in our community who stepped up for these causes and started fundraisers that reach out to our community — women like Danter, who started the Rally for the Cure Golf Tournament, and her husband, Rich, who holds the annual Arnie's Army Battles Prostate Cancer golf tournament, which raised $1,828 this year.
To me, it doesn’t matter if it’s on a golf course or on the tennis court, and it doesn't matter how much money these events raise in the end. The battle against cancer should be important to all of us, and it's nice that there are people in our community who care.
To reach John F. Russell, call 970-871-4209 or email jrussell@SteamboatToday.com
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