YOUNGSTOWN – Brenda Henderson is used to being there on behalf of others, so she was shocked and saddened when the script was temporarily reversed for reasons beyond her control.
“I am the one who takes care of everyone. I am there for those who need me ”, Henderson, of Hubbard, said, fighting back tears.
This level of care extends to her mother, members of her church and many others, she added.
The cause of the reversal was a diagnosis of stage 3 breast cancer she received in January, which led to eight cycles of chemotherapy and surgery last week in which 22 lymph nodes were removed and one blood vessel blood has been reattached.
Largely because of his caring attitude, awareness and actions, more than 35 of his family, friends and other supporters came together to form “The Brenda Team”, one of many participants in Sunday’s annual 10k / 2mile Panerathon fun run and walk that started and ended at the Covelli Center, downtown.
Proceeds will go to the Joanie Abdu Comprehensive Breast Care Center, which opened in 2011 in Youngstown and is the only such facility in the Mahoning Valley. Since its inception, the Panerathon has raised more than $ 3 million for the Mercy Health Foundation in support of the Breast Care Center, noted Candace Madden, Panerathon coordinator.
October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month.
Over 130 teams of five or more of all ages – with names like “JoJo Jugs”, “Barb’s Bouquet” and “Drayer’s physiotherapy” – participated in the event a year after it went virtual last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Some of the funds were used to create two satellite breast care center sites, one in Poland and one in Columbiana, Madden explained.
Henderson remembers feeling an abnormality under her arm while swimming, an activity she did several times a week. The timing coincided with her annual checkup before an ultrasound revealed a lump in her breast, Henderson said, adding that the result was an aggressive type of cancer.
“It’s incredible,” she said about the number of people who rallied for her. “I had a lot of support through all of my surgeries and my chemo. I am a person who is not used to this.
Nonetheless, among those very accustomed to running is Boardman’s Alan Burns, whose time of 11:24:02 earned him the top spot in the 2-mile run and run.
“I have been running since middle school and high school” Burns said, adding that he was also a part of Youngstown State University’s cross country and track teams.
Running is truly a generational family quest for Burns, a sales rep for Zabel’s Restaurant Equipment and Supplies in Youngstown, as he recently qualified for the 125th Annual Boston Marathon on October 11. When Burns was a few months old, his father, Bruce Burns, competed in the 100th annual Boston Marathon.
“It’s nice to see a crowd together again” said young Burns, contrasting Sunday’s Panerathon with that of last year.
The route for walkers and 2-mile runners took them through much of downtown Youngstown; 10 km participants traversed part of the downtown corridor and along a route that largely skirted Glacier Lake in Mill Creek Park.
Madden noted that significant efforts have been made to keep participants safe amid the pandemic, including working with the Youngstown Health Department. Additionally, those attending the event were able to receive COVID-19 and flu shots, she said.
Madden added that she was grateful to see the strong participation and continued community support for an event that also raised funds for the purchase of a large mobile mammography unit that provides services to many. women in the region who may not have had access to such care.
“I’m so excited to see how everyone came together in such a short time” said Sam Covelli, owner and operator of Warren-based Covelli Enterprises Inc., which operates more than 315 Panera Bread stores.
Covelli added that he was grateful that the many sponsors of the Panerathon have returned, despite the ongoing health crisis and other challenges. He also expressed hope that the event will continue to grow and reach more women with breast cancer, and that he is pleased with the support from the community.
“I am so proud to live in this valley”, Covelli added.