More than 200 runners and walkers, mostly wearing pink and white, gathered at Gring’s Mill Recreation Area Sunday morning for the seventh annual Hear Our Voices Team Holly 5K event.
The event at the park in Spring Township is named in memory of Holly Lamont, one of its founders, who passed away in 2014, three-and-a-half years after being diagnosed with stage four breast cancer. All proceeds from the event benefit Breast Cancer Support Services of Berks, a nonprofit organization that provides hope, information and emotional support to people affected by breast cancer.
“It’s part of her legacy to keep it going,” said Greg Lamont, Holly’s husband. “She loved Breast Cancer Support Services because that’s where she found the real friendship of people who knew what she going through. She really needed those people. That’s what really made a difference with her, and she wanted to raise money for them.”
The idea for the event started with Holly and Elizabeth Keller, a member and supporter of Breast Cancer Support Services, according to Greg. Holly wanted to hold an event locally that would bring people together and benefit an organization that meant so much to her and others.
“Holly came to Breast Cancer Support Services for the programs and the peer support groups,” said Michele Reinert, executive director of Breast Cancer Community Services of Berks. “That was her go-to place for other women going through what she was going through, that she could talk to and it meant a lot to her to have somewhere to go to talk to people who understood where you were at and what was going on physically, mentally, emotionally. She thought, ‘How do I give back in that way?’ and decided to start the race.”
Holly was able to participate in the first event in 2014. She passed away only a few short months later at the age of 40.
“This is what she wanted,” Greg said, seeing survivors in pink shirts gathering with each other and their family members and friends prior to the start of the race. “She wanted people just to get together and have fun. She wanted survivors to get together.”
Continuing Holly’s legacy
Greg, along with his family, has been glad to see the event still going year after year with the help of the community and Breast Cancer Support Services.
“It’s awesome, to know that she started something and it’s continued,” he said. “I don’t think she really expected that it would keep going. She sort of said, ‘We’ll probably do this for a couple of years and that whatever happens, we’ll have this year.’ I’m sure she’s here though. I know she just loves this.”
Since its start, the event has grown in size and in its fundraising efforts. Reinert said this year’s turnout was the biggest yet as the organization was expecting about 250 participants.
“We just want to keep doing this because it was Holly’s idea and as long as we keep this idea alive, that keeps that memory alive and I think she’d be pleased to know the turnout today,” Reinert said. “While there’s a couple of tears, it’s mostly smiles and that’s what Holly would want. She would want to be remembered that way.”
As runners were lining up at the front of the starting line, with walkers behind them, Greg and Reinert took a moment to thank everyone for not only coming out to honor Holly, but to also support Breast Cancer Support Services.
“When Holly started this event along with Elizabeth, she just wanted everybody to get together to have fun and talk, get together with other survivors, family and friends,” Greg said. ” That’s what it’s turned into. The first one was small and we’ve grown from there. It’s really amazing what it’s grown into.”
Being cheered on from both sides of the path, the runners were off, followed by the walkers a few minutes later. About 21 minutes later, the first runner back made his way across the finish line.
Prizes were awarded to the top three male and female overall winners, as well as the top three male and female runners in each age category. Awards were also given to the top three overall winners of the survivors participating in the event.
The event also included a large raffle, rock painting, face painting, games, music and refreshments.
Breast Cancer Support Services of Berks was founded in 1994. The organization has created a community of survivors who join together for companionship on their breast cancer journeys by providing information and resources.
Breast Cancer Support Services of Berks offers a variety of programs and support groups for breast cancer survivors and those currently battling breast cancer. One of the groups that helped Holly through her cancer journey, according to Greg, was a support group focused on younger survivors and those in the midst of their battle.
“That’s irreplaceable,” Greg said of Holly finding a group of people around her age going through or having gone through the same journey she was at the time. “You need to talk to people who are going through the same thing.”
More information on Breast Cancer Support Services of Berks is available at bcssberks.org.
Source: Berkshire mont