Race for the Cure

Advocate staff photo by HEATHER MCCLELLAND -- Thousands of people start the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure 5K run/walk Saturday at LSU's Old Front Nine.
Advocate staff photo by HEATHER MCCLELLAND -- Thousands of people start the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure 5K run/walk Saturday at LSU's Old Front Nine.

Runners make time, tracks for 5K event

Javier Pallais doesn’t have time for breast cancer, but he does have time to race against it.

Pallais, 40, of Baton Rouge, wore a pink tutu with a reddish-pink Afro wig and black-and-pink striped stockings while running in Saturday’s Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure in Baton Rouge.

He sported a T-shirt that referenced YouTube sensation Sweet Brown, saying, “Breast cancer? Ain’t nobody got time for that!”

Pallais said he participates in the race every year because he has former coworkers who have been affected by breast cancer.

“For me, I can look like an idiot for a day. They’re struggling for their life,” he said.

Pallais was among the thousands celebrating life exuberantly Saturday at the 17th annual Komen Race for the Cure.

The 5-kilometer run/walk is a primary fundraiser for the Baton Rouge Affiliate of Susan G. Komen for the Cure, which serves a 10-parish area, said Krista Allen Love, the race’s chairwoman.

Love said the event honors breast cancer survivors and remembers those who lost their lives because of it.

“This day is 1 million percent a celebration of life,” she said. “It’s just a celebration to remember anyone who has been affected by this.”

A sea of pink engulfed the LSU Old Front Nine as people gathered at the post-race tailgate area to eat, drink and be merry while celebrating survivors of breast cancer and raising awareness about the disease.

Amid the dancing and delight, Susan G. Komen for the Cure’s Baton Rouge chapter honored the winners of the race, including a special category for participants who have survived breast cancer.

The organization also honored Simone O’Connor, who was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2005, as an “Honorary Team New Balance Hero.”

O’Connor, who served on the board for the Komen Baton Rouge chapter from 2006 to 2007, beat the disease after numerous rounds of treatment.

“I share this award with all of you, with all of the survivors, with all of the co-survivors and the friends and the family members who’ve worked to fight to find a cure against this dreaded disease,” O’Connor said in remarks from the stage.

Before the celebrations, though, came the main event — the 5K run/walk.

The race began on Nicholson Extension, weaved down West and North Stadium drives, meandered down Dalrymple and West Lakeshore drives before making its way down West Parker Boulevard and back to Nicholson Extension.

Stacks of water bottles awaited the racers as they jogged, walked and heaved across the finish line.

Some runners raised their hands in celebration. Others went straight for the water bottles.

Despite the long distance and cold, swirling winds, the masses ran and walked all the way to the end — including women brave enough to challenge the race while currently dealing with breast cancer.

Mindy LaBauve, 44, participated in the race less than two months after her diagnosis.

LaBauve said she learned on Jan. 17 she had breast cancer. She said she had a lumpectomy Feb. 14 and will start chemotherapy March 12.

LaBauve, though, dressed like a woman having the time of her life. She donned a pink T-shirt, pink tutu, pink scarf and silver tiara. She wore a flower in her hair and carried another in one of her hands after the race.

Her team’s name fit her princess-like appearance — “Team Mindarella.”

“It’s awesome,” she said of the Race for the Cure experience. “They need to tell people to bring their tissue. Just getting in that survivor group and walking up to the stage was — goodness gracious — overwhelming.”

Michelle Beck, 39, and her boyfriend, Jason Tinsley, 42, wore T-shirts in honor of Beck’s aunt, Betty Baroni, 73, who found out four weeks ago she is now free of breast cancer after undergoing treatment.

The shirts were emblazoned on the front with a picture of cartoon legend Betty Boop wearing boxing gloves, with the slogan “Knock Out Breast Cancer” above Boop’s raised fists. On the back, the shirt read, “Running For Our Nanny,” in honor of Baroni’s “Nanny” nickname.

“We’re just showing that we love her, support her, that we’re really proud of how strong she’s been through it,” Beck said.