Komen Race Celebrated Winners, Survivors and Supporters

The annual event drew some 5000 breast cancer survivors and their supporters

After days of fog and rain, the sun emerged on Sunday at 8 a.m., just in time to greet the breast cancer survivors and their supporters at the at the South Mountain Recreation Complex.  Some 5000 strong, the crowd of women, children and men browsed informational tents, played games, ate, danced to the live music on the stage, and greeted one another with hugs and tears.

“This is my third time here,” said Beverly James of Newark. “I’m a six-year survivor and I don’t plan to miss a single year.”  Many supporters and survivors came in groups, wearing matching t-shirts or hats bearing the names of loved ones.

The day’s events included a 5K timed race, walk, and a Survivor Celebration. To the crowd’s applause, survivors walked behind bagpipers to the event stage. Many survivors clasped hands, hugged and cried. Later, the group celebrated with cake donated by . 

Locals represented not only with the , but with the South Park bagpipers, based at the , floral decorations by Maplewood’s Jerry Rose, and , spreading the word about male breast cancer at the Blue Wave NJ tent.

“I’m three years out of treatment,” said Jennifer Gordon of Morristown. “And today is my cancerversary, the date I was diagnosed in 2008. No way I was going to miss this party."

Party was the word for many in the crowd, who greeted Survivor Ambassadors Pat Battle and her husband Anthony Johnson. Battle, co-anchor of NBC 4’s “Weekend Today in New York,” was treated for early stage breast cancer. She welcomed the crowd and introduced music for the occasion.

While the Komen organization was earlier this year, and a local team felt that impact, Sunday’s mood was one of jubilation mixed with tears.

Inside the survivor tent, where women had mini-makeovers from Armani, brunched courtesy of ShopRite, and chatted, walls were hung with large photos of women touched by breast cancer.

In one photo, Nancy Sumas poses with her mother, 80, Viola Luciano, who was diagnosed 42 years ago. “My mom is my inspiration,” writes Sumas.  “I think about how isolated and afraid she felt 42 years ago. Her generation rarely spoke about breast cancer. My generation is educated, aware, and informed. We’ve come a long way baby!”

Sumas’s words could have been the message of the day. Far from being a secret illness as it was in generations past, breast cancer is “on the radar,” as Jonelle B. of West Orange said, for many women and men today. “I almost never meet anyone who hasn’t been touched by breast cancer,” said Jonelle, a two-time survivor.  “But when I come here today I realize that it means almost everyone also has a survivor to celebrate.”

Race Winners:


Brandon Ellison (Morristown)                       

Time: 18 minutes 4 seconds



Keith Kelleher (Hoboken)

Time: 18 minutes 37 seconds



Heidi Hullinger (New York)

Time: 19 minutes 37 seconds



Kirsten Peterson (New Providence)

Time: 21 minutes 38 seconds



Sherry Peterson (New Providence)

Time: 25 minutes 00 seconds



Lynn Bircsak (Westfield)

Time: 27 mintes 17 seconds


Susan M. May 16, 2012 at 02:38 PM
It's these kinds of poisonous attacks that are hurting efforts to fight breast cancer. Nancy Brinker's salary is a fraction of 1 percent of Komen's expenses, according to Charity Navigator: http://www.charitynavigator.org/index.cfm?bay=search.summary&orgid=4509. Also, Komen gets 4 stars from Charity Navigator. Please stop attacking people who are trying to do good in the world.
J S Beckerman May 16, 2012 at 03:26 PM
"hating on"? When did that become proper English? If you want to donate to Komen, do so....but 1000s of others have opted never to do so again because of Brinker turning a wonderful charity into her personal PAC. We are not "haters" or whatever word of the moment you co-opted from your kids; rather, we are making a moral decision. If you cannot respect that, then why should I bother discussing it?
Sherley Jean-Baptiste May 16, 2012 at 03:39 PM
As an individual with breast cancer being the family curse(2 aunts, grandmother, cousin), I decided not the do the Komen race this year simply because of Nancy Brinker. I will continue to support cancer research, just not Komen, not now. From what I've read, I wasn't the only one who felt that way last month at the race. Changes need to take place, unless we hit them where it hurts the most, nothing will be done. I respect the work she's done. I just think she's stepped over her boundaries and acting bigger than expected with the charity money she's in charge of. Komen was never supposed to be a political bed for politicians and their agendas.
Katy May 16, 2012 at 08:49 PM
You shouldn't question other people's English when you don't even capitalize your name properly, "beckerman." As to the substance of your assertion, what evidence do you have that Brinker turned this into "her personal PAC"? What evidence do you have to that kind of serious charge? (I won't hold my breath.) Make your own decision about Komen, but please spare us the wild claims and ad hominem attacks that have no basis in reality.
J S Beckerman May 16, 2012 at 09:04 PM
Katy....I guess all the newspapers are wrong about St. Nancy. She is clearly a selfless, wonderful, politically-neutral person. We are so blessed to live in her world.


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