ST. LOUIS – More than 1,000 people laced up their running shoes and headed downtown for the 16th Annual Families Run for Ovarian Cancer 5K.
Organizers say the disease sees 168 new cases diagnosed annually in the St. Louis Metro area.
Before the walk, organizers held a survivors ceremony to recognize and honor ovarian cancer survivors in attendance. Each survivor was recognized by name and received a flower.
Michael Mattera’s wife was cleared of ovarian cancer just a couple of months ago.
“We coined a phrase from ‘Game of Thrones’: not today. Every morning, we’re not going to lose faith, we’re not going to lose hope. We’re not going to give up. It’s all in God’s hands,” he said.
The 5K run and walk is the largest event in St. Louis dedicated to supporting women battling ovarian cancer.
The event aims to raise funds for ovarian cancer research and awareness programs.
Not too far from the start line, attendees stood around an “In Honor and Memory” wall, where some hung photos of loved ones, wrote messages to them, or shared inspiring quotes.
The event is especially meaningful to one family, after losing a mother and wife to this disease in April.
“[It’s] an opportunity for us to come together and honor her memory,” said Erica Huellsmann, who was walking for her mother. “She was an incredible woman, and we try every day to make her proud still, and it’s hard to put one foot in front of the other, but we’re doing our best.”
“She unfortunately, by the time she got symptoms, she was already diagnosed at stage four. And she fought for 13 months,” said David Huellsmann, who walked for his wife.
St. Louis Ovarian Cancer Awareness is a nonprofit that wants to increase ovarian cancer survivorship by promoting awareness of early warning signs. It was founded in 2002 by seven women battling ovarian cancer.
The nonprofit invested $540,000 in research funding.