Inspired by mom, teen organizes Battling Cancer 5K
BY LIANA BAYNE
In Annette Pfohl’s scrapbook, there’s a photo of her with her sons, Curtis and Kyle, taken seven years ago. Next to the photo is a paper cut into the shape of a ribbon, colored in marker with “I love you Mom” written on it in a child’s handwriting.
The photo and note are from 2005, while Pfohl was in the middle of her first bout with cancer. She has fought it twice more since then.
Kyle, inspired by his mom’s struggle, is now hoping to help others in the area who have cancer. A rising senior at Riverbend High School, he’s combined his love of running with his love of his mom to organize a 5K fundraising event.
Proceeds from Kyle’s brainchild, the Battling Cancer 5K Walk/Run on June 17, will benefit the Mary Washington Healthcare Regional Cancer Center. Kyle hopes to raise $10,000 for local cancer programs.
‘IT DOESN’T STOP YOU’
When Pfohl was diagnosed in 2005 with stage 3 cancer, she decided to be straightforward with her sons and her students. Pfohl has been a teacher for 23 years; she currently teaches fifth grade at Christa McAuliffe Elementary School in Prince William County.
“They understood, because it was not kept a secret,” she said.
Pfohl underwent a mastectomy of her right breast, eight rounds of chemotherapy and a total hysterectomy—because her cancer was made worse by estrogen—in 2005.
In 2010, the cancer returned. She underwent 18 rounds of chemotherapy and 35 rounds of radiation. Then on March 29 this year, Pfohl finished another 18 rounds of chemotherapy. Her cancer is currently stable and controlled.
Through all of that, Pfohl’s husband, Cris, and her sons were supportive cheerleaders. While Curtis and Kyle were growing up, Pfohl made sure cancer didn’t stop her from leading the life she wanted.
“I’ve been at every cross country meet and soccer game,” she said. “You learn to live with cancer. It doesn’t stop you.”
‘LET’S DO IT’
Growing up, Kyle got used to his mom having cancer. As he got older, he started wondering what he could do to help others with cancer.
“I always wanted to see if there would be a cancer race,” said Kyle, an avid runner.
He said he couldn’t find a local cancer-related event other than Relay for Life, which draws walkers and runners and is connected to a nationwide effort. As Kyle’s family spent more time in the office of Dr. Charles Mauer, Pfohl’s oncologist, Kyle learned Mauer is also a runner. Last October, Kyle started to wonder aloud if he could organize a fundraising race.
“I was like, ‘absolutely, let’s do it,’” Mauer said.
In January, the Pfohls and Mauer started working together to make Kyle’s idea a reality. The family and Mauer wanted to support local cancer patients and partnered with Mary Washington Hospital’s Regional Cancer Center.
When Kyle started asking his friends and local businesses to support the race, “most of them thought it was great,” he said.
Nate Brooks is the manager of the VA Runner store in Central Park and coaches the cross country team at Chancellor High School. He runs a summer camp for area student runners, which Kyle has attended for two years.
“I was impressed with Kyle wanting to do the race,” Brooks said. “It’s inspirational to see a young kid wanting to do this.”
Brooks and VA Runner donated race bibs and mile markers. He’s also been advertising the race in his store and through runners he knows. Brooks said when he tells people about the race, “they think the fact that the funds are staying local is great.”
Kyle hopes to have about 200 runners participate in the race. He has gotten the Riverbend cross country team involved, as well as other local running groups. He recruited his teammates and friends to run and volunteer with setup, cleanup and the water and registration stations on race day.
Mauer said he’s impressed with how well support of the race has spread.
“It all started from a teenager and worked out from there,” he said.
Liana Bayne: 540/374-5444
WANT TO PARTICIPATE?
WHAT: Battling Cancer 5K Run/Walk to benefit the Mary Washington Healthcare Regional Cancer Center
WHEN: June 17 at 8 a.m.
WHERE: Begins at the Lloyd F. Moss Free Clinic in Fredericksburg
WHO: All ages welcome
COST: $28 before June 7, $33 after June 7
REGISTER UNTIL: June 16 at midnight (online); June 17 at 7:45 a.m. (on site)
RACE PACKETS: They can be picked up June 16 from 10a.m.–5p.m. at VA Runner in Central Park, or June 17 beginning at 6:45 a.m. at the free clinic
PRIZES: T–shirt for all runners who register before June 7; gift cards for overall winners and winners in 7 age categories
FOR MORE INFO: 540/741-1512, varunner.com/upcoming-races, or search for “Battling Cancer 5K Run/Walk” on Facebook