Photo courtesyof Arden Photography.
0213 Lauden Conquer Cancer
On Saturday, March 9, hundreds will converge upon St. Vincent’s One Nineteen for the ninth annual Brenda Ladun Conquer Cancer Run.
The event includes a 5K, a one-mile family fun walk/run, free health screenings, free food and free beverages. Area businesses will also set up a market to display their wares and have agreed to donate 10 percent of their sales to the Run.
Funds generated from the Conquer Cancer Run benefit the Joe Lee Griffin Hope Lodge, part of the American Cancer Society’s Birmingham chapter. For Ladun, Hope Lodge is a natural beneficiary, given its “in the trenches” role of providing access to quality health care.
“Hope Lodge is a free place to stay for people who need treatment in Birmingham and cannot afford the gas back and forth,” Ladun said. “The service provided by Hope Lodge is so important; without it, a lot of people would just give up.”
Restoring hope is one of Ladun’s top priorities for the Run. Over the years, she’s
enlisted the help of local physicians – even star athletes – to accomplish just that.
“We’ll again welcome former Alabama running back Siran Stacy, who lost his family in a car crash, all except his one little girl,” Ladun said. “He feels led to encourage cancer patients. He comes each year and gives us these words of encouragement that, with God’s help, we can get through everything.”
Ladun pointed out that restoring hope means much more than providing uplifting words.
“We also offer free skin cancer checks, and I wanted to do this in honor of my dear friend Vickie Imbusch,” Ladun said, describing a longtime friend who discovered a melanoma on her back only after it was too late.
“If I could wipe away the tears and the sickness, I would,” she said. “We are all in this together.”
A few years ago, Ladun realized that her message had become much more than a rallying cry when a man stopped her while she was completing a routine run in Veterans’ Park.
“This man I’d never seen before came up to me and said, ‘I just want to thank you – you saved my life,’” she said. “He told me that the year prior, he’d attended the Conquer Cancer Run and had a free skin cancer check. He was out of town on business when St. Vincent’s called to tell him he had a melanoma and needed surgery right away. He did so, and they told him it had saved his life. To know we’ve saved just one life like that? It makes it all worthwhile.”
Ladun encourages everyone, regardless of fitness level, to come out and support the event.
“It’s designed to be a fun, family atmosphere, a time away from daily stresses where we can come together, pat each other on the back and realize that we can get through any type of life crisis,” she said. “There is just no better way to give yourself a lift than to help somebody else.”
And, in the words of Ladun, “Even if you don’t want to run, walk or crawl there, you can come and be a cheerleader!”
On the cusp of spring, this year’s Conquer Cancer Run is well timed for those wishing to enter the season with a refreshed, renewed and encouraged spirit.
For more information or to sign up, visit conquercancerrun.org.