FL Charity Races

Mt. Morris faculty and staff members participated in the American Cancer Society's Making Strides Against Breast Cancer 5k walk to raise awareness and funds, as well as to support breast cancer survivors such as their fellow employee Diane Gears.

Raising money for breast cancer research is important for Mount Morris Central School District's Diane Gears.

Gears was diagnosed with Stage 1 breast cancer, but has beaten back the disease. Gears says her cancer was found following a mammogram, and doctors were able to treat it quickly. Her colleagues at Mount Morris were supportive as she underwent surgery and recovery. Before Gears’ surgery two years ago her fellow employees dressed in pink as a sign of support. Now, the district's staff is supporting her continued goal of raising money to help fund breast cancer research.

This year, Gears organized a team to participate in the American Cancer Society's Making Strides Against Breast Cancer 5k walk. She recruited a team of six Mount Morris staff and faculty members to participate in the event.

“I agreed to organize the team from our school because I know that the funds raised go to the American Cancer Society to fund research,” Gears says.” The American Cancer Society also provides free information and support to anyone touched by breast cancer, and supports early screenings that allow cancer to be detected earlier and treated sooner.”

Since Gears became a breast cancer survivor two years ago, she says the walk has grown more important to her. She now participates annually to continue to raise awareness.

Marcus Whitman

Faculty and staff in the Marcus Whitman Central School district are also banding together to raise money for breast cancer patients. Walkers are joining forces in the Embrace Your Sisters walk in Pittsford to help raise money for breast cancer, physical education teacher Jill MacKerchar says. While many breast cancer events raise funds for research, the Embrace Your Sisters Walk takes another approach. Many breast cancer patients are unable to work due to their illnesses. The walk raises funds to provide financial support for those breast cancer patients across a seven county region in the Finger Lakes area of New York. The money raised helps patients pay their bills, MacKerchar says.

In addition to helping provide for breast cancer patients, teachers and faculty in Marcus Whitman have come together to support the Hearts of Iron 5k. MacKerchar says the Hearts of Iron 5k is a way to honor Jim Tuck, a longtime teacher and coach in the Marcus Whitman community who lost his life to cancer.

Tuck was a teacher who touched many lives in the Marcus Whitman community, MacKerchar says. He was an avid runner, and MacKerchar says the Marcus Whitman community continues to run in his honor at the annual March event.

“We rally together and tell stories of this wonderful teacher,” she says.

Proceeds from the Heart of Iron 5k, which is in its fifth year, go to support The V Foundation for Cancer Research, Roswell Park Cancer Institute and the Ronald McDonald House of Rochester.


Other walks or runs are held throughout the Rochester area to raise support for an organization or cause. In the Victor Central School District some walkers and runners participate in the Victor Schools Devil Dash. The dash raises funds for the Victor Educational Foundation, which supports district educational initiatives the regular budget may not cover, such as classroom technology projects, teacher Doug Schmidt says. According to the event sign-up, the Devil Dash raises funds for four different grant programs: Field Trips Forever Fund, Technology for Today and Tomorrow Fund, The Art of Teaching Fund and the General Fund.

“This is the third year for the dash,” Schmidt says. “It keeps getting bigger and bigger.”

Last year the dash saw about 100 participants, Schmidt says, and he anticipated even more this year. According to the Devil Dash website there were 206 participants in the event. Named for the school mascot, the Blue Devils, the Devil Dash is a 5k walk/run aimed to not only raise funds for the district, but to bring the school community together.

“Teachers, students, staff, family, community are all welcome to join in the fun,” Schmidt says.

In addition to the 5k, the Devil Dash also includes a kid’s race, which helps bring the Victor Schools families with smaller children together.

“The foundation has been great for the school district and this is really a community effort,” Schmidt says. “Everyone in the community has come together to create the foundation and it’s great that as a district, as a community, they come together to make the school district a better place.”


The Phelps-Clifton Springs Consolidated School District (Midlakes) community also takes the time out to participate in a district-wide 5k to honor the memory of a teacher. Gerry Benedict, a biology teacher and cross-country coach, died in 2012 after an accident in the Catskill Mountains. He had a profound impact on his colleagues and the local running community, says Julie Backus, a teacher and cross country coach. To celebrate his memory Backus was instrumental in organizing a 5k race that drew about 20 members of the Midlakes staff, as well as some students from across the district. Now in its fourth year, the 5k raised funds for a small scholarship in Benedict’s name. The scholarship is awarded to a high school senior on the cross-country team who plans to pursue a career in scientific education. Backus says this is the first cross-country scholarship Midlakes has offered.

In addition to the 5k and scholarship, Backus says Midlakes also hosted a high school cross-country invitational that featured 10 teams and about 195 high school students.

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