Susan Arnold, younger sister of twins Stephanie L. Miner and Natalie Streeter, is greeted at the end of the race by the ASU cross country team.
Photo courtesy of Lisa Marlin
ALAMOSA — In the predawn hours over the weekend of fall break, there was no question where some college athletes would be found.
“We got here at 5:45 and started filling up balloons and tying knots,” said Mario Garcia, Adams State University sophomore, who, along with the rest of his wrestling team, helped set up for the 9th Annual Stephanie L. Miner Women’s Imaging Center 5K at Cole Park on Oct 6.
The first event was held in 2004, a year after local mom and teacher Stephanie L. Miner passed away from breast cancer. Since then, the funds raised have helped open the women’s imaging center named in her honor at SLV Regional Medical Center and, through the years, have continued to support services there.
When ASU Wrestling Coach Jason Ramstetter first volunteered to help with the event three years ago, he had no idea how important it would become to the wrestlers.
“They don’t want to miss the walk,” he said. “They don’t want to miss the whole event.”
State and national titles aside, on this particular morning, making a difference locally became their focus. “We came to be here for the people who have had cancer,” said Max Ortega, junior wrestler.
Senior teammate Jarrod Purvis agreed. “It’s a good event and maybe there’ll be a cure for cancer in the future,” he said, adding that his aunt has battled not only breast cancer, but two other types.
Easily spotted in a sea of pink camouflage t-shirts, the wrestlers sported their own black t-shirts with large pink ribbons. When called upon to carry tables, hang banners and hoist coolers brimming with potatoes, they quickly answered, “Let’s do it.” And when the race started, they fell in step with approximately 600 participants making their way around the 5K course.
First across the finish line happened to be several of their classmates, members of the ASU Cross Country team. This is the second year that this team has come; this year they wore pink camouflage shirts like most everyone else, but with their school emblem and own unique slogan: Big or small, we run for them all.
“When our student athletes come out and support an event like this, they learn what community service is all about,” said Cross Country Coach Damon Martin.
The Centauri High School Cross Country team also joined the race this year. Coach Trisha Evenson said, “We have some people on our team who have family members who have been affected by breast cancer, so we wanted to come out and support them and support breast cancer awareness.”
While it is the team’s first year to participate, if the ASU teams and others are any indication, it won’t be their last.
Rebecca Hathaway had volunteered with the Sargent High School cheerleaders before graduating in 2010. “Last year a group of us came back from the cheer team and this year I decided to come back from college and help out with what I could. It is a pretty big deal with Maddie (Madison Miner, Stephanie’s oldest daughter) being one of my friends and it has touched all of us at Sargent,” she said. “It is just something that will always be important to me.”
As the tradition continues for many and begins for others, so do some of the event activities. New this year, participants dropped pink carnations over the bridge heading back into the park as a way to honor and remember cancer patients. Once returning to the park, many ran under a welcoming arch formed by ASU runners and right up to the free potato bar provided by the Motz and Miner Families. As they enjoyed their lunches topped with chili donated by Mountain View Restaurant, local band Bittersweet gave of their time and talent to entertain. Later, for the fifth consecutive year, a t-shirt quilt made and donated by Bev Hettinger from various local breast cancer awareness events was auctioned.
As the day’s activities wound down, ASU wrestlers got to work again, helping with clean up. Remarking on the community support, wrestler Mario voiced a thought shared by many, “It just doesn’t get any better than this.”
Event totals and proceeds are still being tabulated at this time and will be reported at a later date.