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Reaching for the Cure- a symbol of community and compassion.

By Erin Arreola, Senior Director of Events
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We are proud to share that the 24th annual  Reaching for the Cure raised over $433,000. It was an exciting year for us – we welcomed a new presenting sponsor, AutoNation Toyota Irvine, and saw 2,300 participants (including 70 fundraising teams) from 27 states and two countries come out for one incredible mission.  And that doesn’t begin to acknowledge the 300 volunteers and combination of 40 sponsors and vendors who all pulled out the stops to ensure a strong finish for this signature fundraiser!

Of course, the Race is more than a fundraiser. It is also more than an awareness-raiser. It is the Pediatric Cancer Research Foundation’s largest gathering of community members who are compelled to fuel momentum for childhood cancer research.

Our Reaching for the Cure community represents countless stories of heartbreak, hope and compassion. Here, everyone turns their agony into organization via a shared commitment to fill the research funding gap. It is gratifying to see volunteers dedicate their time and talents to event preparation; to be able to embrace grieving families and provide them a way to channel their pain; to witness children being philanthropic to support other kids; and to welcome athletes who are motivated by the opportunity to help kids beat this devastating disease.

Putting the Brakes on Pediatric Cancer

From the moment AutoNation Toyota Irvine jumped in to this partnership, it was clear that their involvement was about more than selling more cars – it is about building community and supporting families right here in Orange County. AutoNation is a leader in funding research and treatment aimed at driving out cancers of all types through their DRVPNK mission and we’re delighted they have selected to partner with us to achieve our mission.

Best Burritos at the Finish Line.

It was a treat to feature Wahoo’s new plant-based burritos at our finish line for all our runners, volunteers and attendees this year. Not only were the burritos delicious, but it was participants’ most talked-about finish line feature. A fantastic post-race meal that earned praise from vegans and carnivores alike and even had the kids lining up!

We are very appreciative of Wahoo’s ongoing support. Their donations in the form of meals are generous and loved. We also value the media exposure they provide us on outlets including KLOS and KTLA, thanks to Wing and his California Love Drop team!  It shows our community that they are seen and that they matter.

Reaching Far and Wide

If there is one unexpected benefit to the pandemic, it’s that Reaching for the Cure expanded its reach further than ever before. This is in large part due to the vision of corporate teams at Koeller Nebeker Carlson Haluck, LLPLBA Realty and Ware Malcomb. They recognized the potential for the Race to engage and inspire employees around a cause and urged their multiple offices to join in. As a result, Race participants spanned 31 states and Mexico! This just shows that there are no boundaries when it comes to people uniting to help cure childhood cancer.

Light in the Darkness

Families join us at the start line at different phases of their journey. Some have just started treatment, some are coming up for air after rounds of chemo, some are celebrating survivorship, and some are memorializing the children they have lost. These touching quotes will stay with us forever:

A grieving Father said, “Being here is a reminder there are others who have walked in my shoes. We truly are not alone in our grief.”

An Aunt shared, “This is a place where I can share her life and her story and not feel like our grief is bringing others down.”

A Mom who said, “My daughter really won’t be forgotten. She’s here. She’s everywhere.

A friend looking at the names and faces of children, reminded, “This is why we will keep doing this, every year, for as long as you host this event.

Childhood Cancer Is Not Rare.

The centerpiece to the Reaching for the Cure was our Warrior Wall, standing at 8 feet tall, 30 feet wide, and featuring the names of 728 childhood cancer warriors. I watched as parents and children found their names, posing for photos with smiles and affirmation on their faces. It did not matter if that child’s name represented survivorship or loss – they were seen! Childhood cancer is not rare. It affects 400,000 families every year. It is my mission to make sure families feel seen and affirmed, and their truth is reflected in the fundraisers and events I am a part of at PCRF.

Vote Best of OC

There are hundreds, if not thousands, more threads to this community that I could share with you today. If there’s one thing each of these has in common, it is that the Reaching for the Cure is more than a race, more than the miles ahead of you – it represents a community of cure seekers. Every step and every dollar ripples out to more awareness and funds for innovative treatments that will improve pediatric care for generations to come!

So I ask that you join us in our next Reaching for the Cure chapter by using your voting power to vote “Reaching for the Cure” as the Best Run/Race in OC Register’s 2022 Best of OC. We could not do what we do without your support.