It's an organization that offers comfort, guidance and care at a critical time. And on Saturday, hundreds of community members offered their support to the Cancer Resource Center of the Finger Lakes. Tamara Lindstrom tells us why.
ITHACA, N.Y. -- While many bundled up against the cold, some in the crowd at Ithaca's Cass Park took a different approach.
"Well, we want to kind of be different, make this a unique event. And so every year we kind of add something to our ensemble," said runner John Powers, decked head to toe in pink. "And it's something we really enjoy doing, the whole team."
It was the 19th annual Walkathon and 5K run to support the Cancer Resource Center, a place community members turn to at what may be the most difficult time of their lives.
"People often come to us and say 'I just got diagnosed. I don't know what questions to ask or where to go,"' said Bob Riter, director of the Cancer Resource Center.
A cancer survivor himself, Riter says the unique services offered by the center can make a world of difference.
"At first, you're just blown away. You don't know what to do. And our motto is 'No one should face cancer alone.' And that's what we do, we connect people. We make you feel part of the community," Riter said. "Cancer is never easy, but when you're surrounded by people who care about you, it makes you so much easier and better."
Despite a very cold morning, about 800 people came out to support the center. Many of them said it was the strength of a loved one that inspired them to run."
"My mom's spirit and how much she would laugh at us dressed up like this," said runner Ellie McLaughlin. "She'd be cheering us on that we were silly enough and loved them enough that we would get out here and be so unique for them."
McLaughlin knows full well the value of the Cancer Resource Center. Her mother relied on a similar organization in Michigan throughout her struggle with cancer.
"Everything from rides and wheelchairs when she needed it. They helped her with hospice, they helped her with wigs, they helped her get dressed," McLaughlin said. "Everything she needed they were there for her."
And thanks to the fundraising efforts of community members, the Cancer Resource Center of the Finger Lakes will continue to be there for people in need as well.
Participants raised about $160,000 for the Cancer Research Center; nearly half its annual operating budget.
All of those funds will stay in the local community.