Avera Medical Minute: Avera Race Against Cancer goes virtual as pandemic continues

The COVID-19 pandemic has turned so many facets of our life upside down and inside out.
Schools have closed and home learning has started. businesses have either shut down or dramatically changed how they do things.
Long standing traditions, everything from family reunions to high school graduations, have either been canceled or postponed.
In a little more than a week the 32nd annual Avera Race Against Cancer was to have been run. It turns out the event will be held just not in its normal form.

It's a scene we have become accustomed to and grateful for. Thousands of people giving of themselves on a Saturday morning to walk, jog and run to raise money for the Avera Cancer Institute and its programs.
This year those thousands will not gather in the same place at the same time and that will be odd to see.
But the hope is that thousands will not be deterred by the COVID-19 pandemic and will still find a way to take part in the event virtually.

"Virtual means that you can walk or run anytime around the race, Race Day May 9th, the week of the race, even Sunday....Mother's Day....you can register for the race through the month of May.." says Jackie Haggar-Tuschen.

Jackie Haggar-Tuschen is the Executive Director of the Avera McKennan Fitness Center. For years she has been one of the lead people in pulling the Avera Race Against Cancer together and tells us that pulling off an event like this is crucial every year because of the good work it does....and that the need now isn't any less important.

"We need to still create the funds and raise the funds for the Cancer patients at the Avera Cancer Institute. And support all those services that we have all those years." said Haggar-Tuschen

"Cancer doesn't stop because of a pandemic. Patients will still be diagnosed, patients will still need treatment and relapses will occur and we'll still unfortunately lose people to Cancer." said Karen Doyle.

For years Karen Doyle worked as an Oncology Nurse. She is now an Avera Race Against Cancer volunteer and participant. This will be her 31st year of involvement with the race. She says going the virtual route for this year's race is an example of necessity being the mother of invention and that it would be unacceptable for the race to take a year off.

"We can't be all together the morning of but we can still get out there and support and we need to provide hope for our Cancer patients." said Doyle.

From race organizers to volunteers to participants...the Avera Race Against Cancer boils down to the idea of determination: of accomplishing something important in memory of someone...or in honor of someone....or to help someone who needs it right now.
While the pandemic is testing our will and our patience....the pandemic will not stop the determination of the Avera Race Against Cancer.

"We can't stop raising funds. For 31 years we've raised funds to support our community and we're not going to stop now. This is going to be the 32nd Avera Race Against Cancer. Virtually." said Haggar-Tuschen.