Hare and Tortoise 8K Raises Money, Awareness for Ovarian Cancer

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A photo from the 2011 Karene O'Hare Memorial Race shows runners ready at the starting line. (Photo courtesy John O'Hare/Karene O'Hare Race)
A photo from the 2011 Karene O’Hare Memorial Race shows runners ready at the starting line. (Photo courtesy John O’Hare/Karene O’Hare Race)

The Hare and Tortoise New Quarter Park 8K/Walk is returning for its seventh year of raising money for ovarian cancer screening services in the Historic Triangle.

The race, which is organized by the Karene O’Hare Ovarian Cancer Memorial Fund and the Williamsburg Community Foundation, was established after Karene O’Hare died of ovarian cancer in October 2008.

O’Hare was a Historic Triangle resident and longtime volunteer at the Lackey Free Clinic, which is now the beneficiary of a large portion of the proceeds of the race.

After Karene passed away, her husband John O’Hare decided he wanted to do something to memorialize Karene and fight back against the disease that took her life. With the help and support of his children, he devised the race as a means to raise both money and awareness.

They opted to begin their own organization rather than become involved with an already existing national organization so they could directly serve the community Karene loved.

Since Karene gave so much of her time to the Lackey Free Clinic, it seemed natural the money they raised should go toward improving local services rather than being redirected to administrative costs for a larger organization, John O’Hare said.

Over the past six years the race has raised more than $107,000 for Lackey Free Clinic and the Olde Towne Medical and Dental Center. This money has been used to provide cancer-screening services for the uninsured and underinsured in the community.

Since the O’Hare Memorial Fund began raising money for improved early detection and screening services in 2009, the Lackey Free Clinic and Olde Towne Medical Center have diagnosed seven women in the community with ovarian cancer. Because all seven women were diagnosed in the early stages of the cancer, they have all been successfully treated.

Despite these heartening success stories, there are still great strides to be made in the battle against ovarian cancer.

“Research shows that about ninety percent of women with early-stage Ovarian Cancer experience symptoms,” John O’Hare said in a recent news release. “However, only about 15% of all cases are found at stage 1 due to the cancer’s non-specific symptoms and the lack of early detection tests.”

To this end, an additional $6,000 from the Memorial Fund has been donated to educational initiatives aimed at informing women of early symptoms to look for and risk factors to avoid.

Last year’s race attracted more than 300 participants and 50 community sponsors. O’Hare hopes to continue setting new records and milestones with each passing year.

“Our ability to continue underwriting the costs of providing screening services for women who otherwise likely could not access these services depends upon the generous support of our donors, sponsors and entrants,” he said. “Everyone can play an important part in the effort to raise the needed funds to fight this disease”

This year’s race will be held Sept. 12, with the one mile “fun run” kicking off at 8:30 a.m. and the 8K starting at 9 a.m.

Pre-registration for both races prior to and on Aug. 31 is $30. After Aug. 31, registration costs $35 for either race. T-shirts are guaranteed to the first 200 registrants, but will continue to be made available through race day as long as supplies last.

To register online, click here. To register by mail, follow the instructions and download the printable registration form here.