This will be the 6th year for our team at the Komen St. Louis Race for the Cure.
Originally, the name was Team Cora. However, our team has known too many people affected by breast cancer, so this year we changed the name to Team Cora & Friends.
The team was originally named after my mom, Cora Leiendecker. She was diagnosed with breast cancer in the early 1990s. She had a mastectomy, but in 1998, the cancer returned and metastasized throughout her body. She endured radiation and chemotherapy until December 2000, when the doctors told her there was nothing more they could do for her.
Even in the midst of her pain she continued to be an inspiration to so many people. She passed away on July 8, 2001, just shortly after my parents’ 34th wedding anniversary. Cora left behind a husband, four children and two grandchildren. Since her passing, there have been four more grandchildren who never got to meet her. My two children have participated in the Komen St. Louis Race since they were born.
My mom never felt sorry for herself and made the most of the time that she had with us, so we take this time each year to celebrate her life. We walk with the hope that there will be one less family that has to deal with such a tragedy.
As I mentioned, my mom is not the only one that our team knows who has fought the fight. So, we now also walk in memory of Jeanie Kiefer Martin McDowell (my Uncle’s sister), Cindy Moll (family friend), Becky Lorts (team friend) and Cookie Loughary (my cousin’s mother-in-law).
And we walk in support of those still fighting: Lavonne Vaninger (family and team friend), Kay Stanford (team friend), Joanne Brockmiller (team friend) and Harmony Foster (team friend).
On Race day, our team members always end up with goose bumps as they look down and behind them on the sea of people. It becomes an experience they will always remember.
And for me, words can’t express the pride that I feel as I walk in memory of my mom and the support that I feel from so many strangers.
Join us for the 16th Annual Susan G. Komen St. Louis Race for the Cure on Saturday, June 14. Visit www.komenstlouis.org.
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