‘Race for the Cure’ braves J'lem traffic in historic march

Event deemed a success as more than 5000 participants help to raise millions for cancer research both in Israel and abroad.

Susan G.Komen Israel Race for the Cure 311 (photo credit: David Katz)
Susan G.Komen Israel Race for the Cure 311
(photo credit: David Katz)
More than 5000 people braved bustling Jerusalem traffic on Thursday to participate in the first ever Susan G. Komen Israel Race for the Cure.
Despite the fact that the three and a half kilometer route through the center of Jerusalem -- from the Sacher Park to the just outside the walls of the Old City – had not been officially closed to cars as the thousands of participants marched by, the event was deemed a success as it is set to raise millions of dollars for cancer research both in Israel and abroad.
The international race, which takes place in an additional 11 countries outside the US, brought together Israelis from around the country and from all sectors of the population, as well as several hundred participants from abroad. In addition, some 200 men and women wore pink Susan G. Komen t-shirts that identified them proudly as survivors of the disease and others held signs with names of loved ones lost to breast cancer.
“I’m excited to see so many people have come here from Eilat up to the Karmel,” Israeli fashion designer and honorary race chairperson Dorin Frankfurt, who on Thursday had her 20 Israeli stores filled with pink lights, Komen’s signature color, told The Jerusalem Post. “There are people from all backgrounds and all communities it’s exactly the way Israel should be.”
US Senator Joseph Lieberman, co-chair of the Israel Breast Cancer Collaborative, addressed the crowd at the start of the walk saying “with the seeds of fear comes hope… breast cancer is the fear and we all hope to find a cure.”
He added: “Together we race and together we’ll find a cure for breast cancer.”
Lieberman was joined on stage under an arch of pink and white balloons by his wife Hadassah, Nancy G. Brinker, who in 1982 founded Susan G. Komen for the Cure after making a promise to her dying sister, Hadassah Women’s Organization National President Nancy Falchuk, which took a key role in sponsoring the event and Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat.
“I feel very moved to see so many people here from all over the world,” Audrey Shimron, Executive Director of the Israel office of Hadassah told The Post. “We hope that this event will raise awareness to breast cancer.”
Official figures suggest that more than 4000 women in Israel are diagnosed with breast cancer each year and government subsidized detection of the disease begins only after the age of 45.
“This is a very important issue for all women and that is why it was so important for us to come here,” commented Yunis Saham from Kfar Ara, who had braved the unseasonably high temperatures to take part in the march.
Donning a pink shirt with a sign announcing “I’ve beaten breast cancer twice,” Oregon resident Sandi Buhrmaster-Jelinski said she had come to Israel just to participate in the race.
“I have a goal to participate in the Race for the Cure all over the world,” she said, highlighting that she’d walked in events in 11 US states, Italy, Germany and last year in Egypt.
“I participate in the hope that it will raise breast cancer awareness,” added Buhrmaster-Jelinski, explaining, “My first breast cancer was in 1996 and my second one was five years ago… [b]oth were detected early on with the help of a mammogram. Early detection helps women live longer.”
She said she was moved by the large turnout: “It’s good to see all the women out here participating, women of different diversity and ages, with a lot of men supporting the women, it’s great.”
“We are part of history,” stated an enthusiastic Jared Stein, a participant on the Young Judaea Yearcourse program who joined the walk with more than 100 of his peers. “This is the first time this race has ever taken place in Israel and we will be able to say that we were here.”
“There are so many people here and we are honored that we can be part of this in Israel,” said his fellow Yearcourse participant Jordana Eisenberg, a regular walker in Komen events in her hometown of Baltimore.
Another Young Judaea friend, Ben Berger from Los Angeles, added: “We just hope that it will help to find a cure for breast cancer.”
Among the others ‘walking for cure’ were also representatives of the event’s various partners, including the Israel Cancer Association, which had initially been reluctant to join forces with Komen, WIZO and the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee.
Jonathan Blum, Vice President and General Counsel for Susan G. Komen for the Cure, said that the main goal of the race this year was to raise awareness of breast cancer and establish the organization as a permanent fixture in Israel. He said that 75 percent of monies raised by Thursday’s event would stay in Israel for cancer research programs and organizations here.
A spokeswoman for the event said it was still too early to know how much had been officially been raised.
Donations for the cause can be given at http://ww5.komen.org .