Three races, one goal

Three races, one goal

(This is a full version of a story that was previewed in our Spring print edition.)

This is the idea behind the new racing series “Medina Runs Down Cancer”. Three organizations are working together to help those affected by cancer in Medina. The Mary Grace Memorial Foundation, the Medina Half Marathon, and Collin Cares Cures Cancer have teamed up for this new adventure.

The Mary Grace Memorial Foundation was founded in 2005 after Mary Grace passed away after struggling with cancer. Mike Grace, the director of the race stated, “it was an effort to carry on her legacy, and to help people battling cancer.” Last year the race raised over $80,000 and they hope to top that number in this year’s race.

The money raised by “Race with Grace” is used to help families who are battling cancer by paying mortgage, rent, utility bills, and other payments so that the families can focus on fighting the disease. Last year, the Race with Grace had 1,400 participants: 900 runners and 500 walkers.

Planning the race is a tall task. Grace stated, “I would just think bringing it all together, from the start to finish, ‘Thank God I have a lot of help.’ There are board members, people who volunteer the morning of the race. so every year it gets easier, and knowing the outcome is certainly worth all of the work.” This September will be their 14th year of the race.

The Medina Half Marathon started in 2013 when a group called the Medina Roadrunners wanted to start a race in Medina. Beth Bugner, the director of the half marathon stated, “We wanted to try a 5K and a half marathon, our goal was to promote fitness and raise money for local charities.” The Medina Half Marathon has raised over $100,000 in the past four years, and they are hoping to raise 30 to 40 thousand more dollars this year.

When asked where the raised money from the half marathon goes, Bugner stated, “We donated it back to groups, we gave a large amount to Stand Up for Downs and the Mary Grace Memorial Foundation. We gave donations to Run2Share, Running2BWell, and the Keara Kilbane foundation.” 

Planning the half marathon is no easy job. Last year, 1,100 to 1,200 people participated in the race, and they are hoping for an even larger turnout this year. Bugner stated, “You have to learn what you have experienced from previous races and to try to make it a good day for all of the Medina Runs.” This May will be their fifth half marathon.

Collin Cares started in 2014 when Medina resident Collin Kiousis was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer. Collin and his mother Liz Kiousis came up with the race. “My sister is an ultra-marathon runner and she said ‘I don’t know what to do with Collin. Why don’t we just do a 5k?’” Liz Kiousis stated. “I know I can organize that, and I want to do that to help you and your family and I think it will bring a lot of support.” During his senior year at MHS, Collin said that a lot of people were helping them out, he started his own foundation, and he still wanted to do a 5K.

After the first year Collin and his girlfriend, Hayden Cory, wanted to amp it up a little bit by coming up with an idea of a glow in the dark race.  Kiousis states, “So the first year that we did it we had glow in the dark balloons hanging from the trails, had 600 of them, we had big glow sticks that went down trails, and people with glow stick volunteers, it was a lot of fun and it worked out very well.”

There are a lot of great things about the race. “We hope to raise money, but one of the biggest things is to show support to the community,” Kiousis stated. “The one we did last year doubled in size from the first one, and that enable us this year to raised $300,000 to area families dealing with cancer and donate a little bit to cancer research.” The race last year had 400 runners in the dark who were given glow stuff to wear. They also could wear headlights if they wanted to, and over 100 people volunteered. Planning the Collin Cares race isn’t an easy job. “It involves a lot of people especially when you are running at night because you want it to be fun,” said Kiousis. “Everything’s glow in the dark but you need some light so people aren’t falling over each other, we have a disco ball at the end, music playing, so it’s a really cool event, really fun, and it’s different,” Koissus stated.

Stephanie Novicky, a board member of the Mary Grace Memorial Foundation, was the one who came up with the slogan “Medina Runs Down Cancer”. It is still unsure if Medina Runs Down Cancer will turn into an annual tradition in the community, however many are hopeful about the new collaboration.

“Since all three have associated with cancer, they all have similar goals, actually Collin Cares and Mary Grace Foundation do, and the Medina Half Marathon has been very generous with their money,” Grace stated. “I think it will take it to the next level, all three of these races are such good community races, and I hope it continues into the future.”

Kiousis states, “I would love that we are all doing the same thing, we are doing these runs to raise awareness for cancer, to help people in the community, help people statewide and local, we are kind of doing the same thing but trying to get the message out in different ways.”

“I sure hope so,” stated Bugner, when asked if he thinks the races will stay together. “I think our three races attract Medina runners. We all three gave to great causes and I think combining us together will only bring out more runners to the three races.”