Annual race brings community together over breast cancer
LAFAYETTE — Joe Edna Robinson, of Lafayette, took part in the Komen Acadiana Race for the Cure every year for the last 14 years, accompanied by family and friends — many of them from Progressive Baptist Church.
This year, Robinson’s friends and family had to make the 5k trek in downtown Lafayette without her. She succumbed to breast cancer last year.
“This event was so important to Joe,” said Claudia Williams, one of the more than 40 people walking and running in support of Robinson.
“She was our fitness instructor; she was a cancer survivor, and there is no doubt she would have been here today.”
Robin Flynn, a Bunkie native and breast cancer survivor of five years, said the annual walk is personal for her and other breast cancer survivors.
“This disease affects everyone,” Flynn said. “Yes, (the race) does raise money, and that is great. But the biggest and best part is that it brings people together and raises awareness. That is big.”
According to its website, Komen for Acadiana has raised more than $3.2 million since its creation in 1999. The national Susan G. Komen for the Cure has raised more then $2 billion since its inception in 1982.
There are 121 Komen affiliates across the country that raise funds for breast cancer research and awareness. Komen for Acadiana included the six parishes in Acadiana until 2013, when it expanded to include eight parishes in central Louisiana. Of the $3.2 million raised by Komen for Acadiana since 1999, 75 percent of the funds stay in the local community.
“We know that there’s a great need for breast cancer treatment and research and screening in Acadiana,” said Shalondra Lewis, president of the Komen for Acadiana Board of Directors. “These participants and the fundraising efforts can help us get where we need to be.”
More than 1,800 people registered for Saturday’s race and hundreds more participated in the day’s events, which included a survivor breakfast at Agave downtown followed by a race warm-up concert, hosted by the performer Cupid.
A 5k and 1-mile run/walk were followed by closing ceremonies and survivor ceremonies, where breast cancer survivors were honored on stage.
Cupid, a Lafayette native whose song “Cupid Shuffle” was a national hit, said giving back to the community is a “no-brainer.”
“My mom lost her best friend last year to cancer,” he said. “My best friend lost his dad to cancer. So this is personal, and if I can be a part of anything in my community, I am going to be here. The community made me. I have to give back, and no matter how many events I do, I can never do enough for the support they give to me.”
Cupid, who warmed up the crowd, filled Robinson’s shoes, who pumped up the crowd with her energetic personality for the 14 years prior to this one. Robinson’s friends and family said it was a different feel this year but guaranteed this would not be their last event.
“We crossed that finish line today together,” Williams said. “Miss Joe’s spirit was certainly with us and we want to make sure we continue to follow her wonderful legacy. We do this in her honor.”