Big changes coming to Komen Race for the Cure

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WZZM) -- Big changes are coming to the Komen West Michigan Race for the Cure this year.

It's at the beginning of September, instead of the end, and it's moving back to downtown Grand Rapids -- which is creating a lot of excitement.

"We are heading back downtown after 17 years of not being here," says Komen West Michigan Executive Director Jennifer Jurgens. "While it has been an amazing experience at the mall, I love downtown Grand Rapids."

The first Grand Rapids race for the cure was held downtown in September of 1998.

Jurgens is excited about coming back.

"It's gonna be beautiful. We're running north along the river. We're cutting over along the 6th Street Bridge, coming back down, and you're gonna finish right here on the Gillett Bridge."

That finish line is in front of the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum. President Ford's daughter, Susan Ford Bales, is the race ambassador. Former First Lady Betty Ford, a breast cancer survivor, was the first race ambassador.

"It really is a fitting homecoming," Jurgens said.

Race for the Cure raises money in the fight against breast cancer, for research and patient care, and every year hundreds of survivors come together as what they call a "pink family" to share the Race for the Cure experience.

"It's a pride that you wouldn't think you would have," three-year survivor Angie Schweigert says. "You never wanted to be part of the pink family, but once you are, you're so proud to be walking with other women and you see women who are still struggling, and maybe you're not this year and maybe next year you may be. It's just an empowering feeling to be around the other women, and to have the support and have other people cheer for you."

And there's even more to cheer about. The Hispanic Festival will be going on at the same time.

There are special room rates at downtown hotels for Race for the Cure participants and discounts or free admission at several attractions. Organizers say there will be plenty of parking, too, and free DASH shuttles.

"Those shuttles will run every eight minutes, so it'll be very simple to get down here and stay down here for the day," Jurgens said.

All the while, participants will be a part of the power of pink, Schweigert says.

"We need to come out, and we need to support each other and just to be a part of that community -- and not wait until it happens to you, but just to do something and feel that amazing power that women have with each other."


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