Running to save lives

10/9/2012

By RACHAEL GRAY

By RACHAEL GRAY

rgray@gctelegram.com

The men and women in St. Catherine's Intensive Care Unit have each other's backs.

On Saturday, they also had each others's "racks."

A team of more than 41 people ran for Heather Wright-Renick, a breast cancer patient, at the Leave a Legacy Foundation's Legacy 10K and Spirit 5K.

Rain showers and temperatures around 30 degrees didn't keep Heather's team or more than 200 other runners from running the race Saturday.

Three members of Heather's — Cecilia Samadi, 29, Holcomb; BreAnna Sandoval, 13, Holcomb; and Lisa Beggs, 30, Garden City — ran and walked the 5K race. They said the weather didn't deter their teammates or other teams.

"It was cold at first, but after a while, it wasn't that bad," Samadi said.

Her teammate agreed.

"Once you got going, you warmed up," Beggs said.

Although Saturday's race was for Heather, all three women have been affected by cancer in other ways.

"My mom and my grandma had breast cancer, too," Samadi said.

"My grandma died of cancer," Sandoval said.

To support Heather, the team has held a bake sale, made T-shirts and held a softball tournament in Cimarron to help raise money.

On Saturday, team Heather Wright-Renick wore T-shirts that had pink ribbons with a rack of antlers coming out of them that said, "Save a Rack." The back of the T-shirt said "Help Fight the War in My Rack. HWR 2012," in pink letters.

The race is in memory of Laura Kleysteuber, a 30-year-old mother of two who died in 2006 after a six-year battle with brain cancer.

Family and friends of Kleysteuber's still continue to run and raise money in her memory. Their goal is to raise $20,000.

In the past, the foundation has provided St. Catherine Hospital with funds to purchase life-saving equipment to diagnose and treat patients.

Last year, the foundation purchased a digital imaging scope to aid in the detection and monitoring of throat, thyroid, lung and head cancer valued at $20,000 for St. Catherine Hospital. Over the past few years, LLF has purchased laptop computers for patients and families to use during their treatment at the Cancer Center. The group also has purchased radiation shields, cameras and other equipment requested by the radiology department. In April 2010, the foundation made its largest single donation of $28,000 toward the purchase of the digital mammography machine for St. Catherine.

Once a month, the foundation gives Laura's Touches — small gifts, including cookies, fuel cards, gift cards and plants — to patients undergoing chemo or radiation therapy at the Cancer Center to encourage them in their fight, according to Paige Kraus, one of the event's organizers.

The "Fill the Fridge" campaign, which helps stock snacks and drinks for cancer patients, is new this year.

The race this year fell on the day of the Kansas-Kansas State football game, and organizers planned a watch party. Silent auction items included tailgate-themed products such as a traeger grill, flat screen TV and other related items. The silent auction was held Saturday afternoon at Samy's Spirits and Steakhouse.

Kraus said organizers also are talking with health care officials to designate a cancer-screening day on Nov. 13 to test for all different types of cancer.

Kraus, who was a friend of Kleysteuber's, said the aim of the organization is to raise money and awareness.

"That's the key in fighting all types of cancer, is early detection," she said.

It is the hope of the foundation that by providing free screenings and assisting with the purchase of digital mammography equipment that lives can be saved in southwest Kansas, a release from the foundation said.

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