Today’s post was written by Bert E. Thomas IV, PhD, MBA, CEO of the Sarcoma Foundation of America.
In the three years that I have been with the Sarcoma Foundation of America, I have had the privilege of serving the sarcoma community. An important part of my job as CEO is to meet patients, caregivers and loved ones, learn about their patient journeys, and try to understand the challenges that each and every sarcoma patient deals with on their path to becoming a sarcoma survivor. I have also worked closely with sarcoma doctors and researchers, learning about their efforts to advance our understanding of the disease and find a cure while understanding the challenges of treating sarcoma patients in a complex healthcare system.
I have met other stakeholders in the cancer ecosystem who want to eradicate all cancers and are working to improve the regulatory and policy environment so we can improve patient outcomes. Unfortunately, many of these stakeholders know little about sarcoma, one of over a hundred rare cancers. In many ways they are no different than the general public where disease awareness is close to zero.
Through all of these interactions, a challenge became apparent: How do we raise awareness of a rare disease in a noisy marketplace while at the same time creating a renewable sustaining source of funding for our sarcoma research grants? After much deliberation, we concluded that there was an opportunity to expand the number of sarcoma 5K Run/Walks. Increasing the number and the national presence of these races could help bring the public to our cause. We realized we needed a brand and thus the Race to Cure Sarcoma™ (RTCS) was born. We created a logo and took our story on the road.
In 2015, the SFA had two legacy races. The following year, we added three new Race to Cure Sarcoma™ events. In 2016, the SFA partnered with Robert H. Lurie Comprehensive Cancer Center of Northwestern University in Chicago, the Fox Chase Cancer Center in Philadelphia, and the University of Colorado Cancer Center in Denver. Each race was a success in its own right, attracting more than 370, 480 and 590 participants, respectively. The excitement that our RTCS series generated in such a short period of time was overwhelming! We could not be happier with the response. In just one year, the Race to Cure Sarcoma series has grown significantly with more races added to the schedule. In 2017, our new race sites include Miami, Nashville, Milwaukee Richmond, and New Jersey.
The Race to Cure Sarcoma™ events are opportunities to build community, raise awareness and raise funds to support sarcoma research locally and nationally. The SFA is proud of these events and hopes that the Race to Cure Sarcoma™ race series will continue to grow in size and number so we can mobilize the power of the public awareness in our efforts to make a difference for sarcoma patients and their families. We intend for these races to provide a way to generate the kind of financial support needed to help sarcoma researchers find better treatments for sarcoma and ultimately, find the cure.
It takes a village to make these events happen and we thank all of the volunteers, participants, sponsors and donors for their support in helping make the Race to Cure Sarcoma™ series a reality. With their help, we can continue racing toward a cure for sarcoma!
For more information on the Race to Cure Sarcoma, visit racetocuresarcoma.org.