Breast cancer awareness hit home with Colette Abbott, wife of University of South Dakota President James Abbott.
Approached by a close friend who suffered from breast cancer, whose daughter also had breast cancer and whose mother had died from the disease, Abbott founded the first South Dakota Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure held at the DakotaDome. After four years though, the nationally-recognized event will leave its home in Vermillion and travel to Sioux Falls.
“The first one was so memorable,” Abbott said. “We all had this idea of what it would be like, but to see it actually appear on the floor of the DakotaDome, and to see all that hard work that all those volunteers did, it was a very satisfying and humbling experience.”
Susie Patrick, the Race for the Cure’s chairwoman, announced the relocation of the event March 11. While Abbott said she will absolutely miss having the event in Vermillion, the decision made by the South Dakota Susan G. Komen Affiliate Board was for the benefit of the event.
“To move the race, the committee had to ask ourselves, what is the purpose of the race? We have it to help people with breast health needs and to increase breast health education,” Abbott said. “Funds can be raised if they are in the population base of our state. This is a main reason we took it to (Sioux Falls), to allow the race to grow. It was time for a change, for new ideas and for new energy.”
The impact of the move for the race, which includes a 5K run and a 1-mile walk/run, will also be felt not only by active community members but USD students. Abbott said the location of the event in Vermillion drew students from multiple organizations to create teams and raise money.
Junior Darcy Leischner, vice president of USD’s Colleges Against Cancer, said she understands why the race was moved, but she now sees it targeting a different
“There will probably be a decrease of USD student participation,” Leischner said. “With homework and everything going on during the weekends, I don’t think students would be as willing to get up on there Saturday morning to do this if it requires driving the 45 minutes to Sioux Falls. That isn’t to say students won’t participate, but I think there will be as many as the past few years.”
Sophomore Ellen Ingebrigtson, Director of Philanthropy and Community Service for the Panhellenic Council, also said she thought the amount of USD student activity at the race will decrease, but the new Sioux Falls location will open the door for a new batch of participants.
“This past year, we had 12 to 15 girls for the A-Phi team, but I expect the one this year will probably be half that number,” Ingebrigtson said. “But I know people are still interested in doing it, and there still is for money to be raised for breast cancer awareness.”
Reach reporter Megan Card at Megan.Card@usd.edu.