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Spokane runners support cancer survivors

The Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure filled downtown Spokane with a crowd dressed in pink for the seventh running of the race under cool Sunday morning temperatures.

Spokane police had extra officers on hand to make sure the race stayed safe just six days after two shrapnel-filled bombs were detonated at the finish line of the Boston Marathon.

Shae Fasbender, race chairwoman, said the violence in Boston did little to deter people from turning out on Sunday for the 5-kilometer event. She said the number of participants was up this year to nearly 8,000 walkers and runners, including a surge in late registrations. Last year, registration totaled about 7,500.

“A lot of survivors said, ‘I survived cancer; I’m showing up,’ ” Fasbender said.

Spokane Mayor David Condon called out to the crowd, “You all look really good in all that pink.”

He then asked for a moment of silence just before the start of the race to remember the victims of last week’s bombing in Boston.

It was the second moment of silence in the prerace festivities. Race officials also had a moment of silence for the people who have lost their battles with cancer. That moment ended with the release of helium-filled pink balloons.

Police Chief Frank Straub said he ordered an increase in police presence to be on the safe side.

Officers moved throughout the course checking for any suspicious activity. One officer looked in trash cans in the causeway next to the INB Performing Arts Center on Spokane Falls Boulevard.

The Spokane Police Department employed social media to relay the message via Twitter: “Having a great time at #RaceForTheCure. We’re out in extra numbers.”

Cancer survivor Georgi Valley, of Spokane, was at the race with two dozen family members, all wearing shirts that said, “I wear pink for Georgi.”

Valley said she turns 70 today and is getting ready for her 50th wedding anniversary in July, dates that were made possible because of treatments that have left her free of cancer for five years, she said.

Among her family supporters at the race were her husband, Jerry, and son, Jeff.

“It gives you hope when you see so many people here who have survived or are going through it,” Valley said.

The scene on the course was festive. A Scottish music group, the Nine Pint Coggies, played their traditional tunes from the elevated walkway at Mobius Science Center at Lincoln Street and Main Avenue as walkers and runners streamed past.

The race started under cool but partly sunny skies that helped take the bite off temperatures in the low 40s. Rain showers didn’t arrive until the race finished.

Funds from the race go to research, education, screening and treatment, according to the Susan G. Komen Eastern Washington organization.

Joan Crowe, of Spokane, was among the many cancer survivors who were wearing the official pink Komen survivor T-shirt. She said she has made it a year without cancer after being treated for four different types of the disease.

“I feel good,” she said. “I’m happy to be alive.”

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