The Ellen Hermanson Foundation to hold its annual Ellen’s Run

Fighting Cancer, One Stride At A Time

Anna Throne-Holst, Jean Shafiroff, Julie Ratner. Independent/society-in-focus.com

On Sunday, August 19, the streets of Southampton will become a sea of pink as The Ellen Hermanson Foundation holds its 23rd Annual Ellen’s Run 5K. The rain or shine, 3.1-mile run/walk course begins at 9 AM at Southampton Hospital’s Parrish Hall on Herrick Road and goes into town, through beautiful treelined and oceanfront roads, before looping back.

This is the leading fundraiser for the not-for-profit foundation, dedicated to breast cancer research at the Ellen Hermanson Breast Center at Southampton Hospital, which serves the entire East End. While trophies and medals are awarded (top three female, male, and first-place breast cancer survivor), it’s a day dedicated to the community. Children will enjoy face painting and there will be snacks and refreshments as well.

Southampton resident Jodi Wasserman celebrates a decade of being cancer free. The mother of four was diagnosed at age 51, a mere six months after losing a friend to the disease, and, as with any parent, was only concerned about her family. “I didn’t want my children worried, the end result isn’t the same for anybody,” Wasserman explained of her then 13-, 14-, 21-, and 23-year-old children. “Someone told me, ‘Don’t listen to others’ war stories. Your cancer is your cancer.’”

Wasserman took to running to help cope with her diagnosis, a chance to get lost in the music and clear her head, and has been a particpant in Ellen’s Run for 12 years. While she started as a patient, she now runs as a survivor. “It made me feel like this is something I could do to help other women. It’s a feeling of one family, all running and walking for the same reason,” she explained.

In addition to her volunteer work with breast cancer patients, Wasserman’s inspirational attitude of “Don’t worry about tomorrow, focus on today” garnered her the honoree award at the Ellen Herman Foundation’s “An Evening of Enchantment,” held at Topping Rose House in Bridgehampton on July 28. “I never in my life felt as special as I did that night,” Wasserman humbly noted.

Through the money raised at the benefit, 10 new, state-of-the-art chemotherapy chairs were funded, along with additional funds going toward a new breast biopsy center. Fundraising aside, The Ellen Hermanson Foundation has also recently been awarded $75,000 through The Gateway Grant, thanks to Senator Ken LaValle.

This grant money will be put towards services at Ellen’s Well, the psychosocial support center helping patients and their families cope through support groups, counseling, and wellness program.

“We’re extremely proud that we keep the money that we raise here on the East End. We work with the hospital, with Ellen’s Well, to get the most mileage out of our money. For me, it’s always how many women can we serve, how many can we help? We want people to have the opportunity that [my sister] Ellen didn’t have,” co-founder and chairwoman of The Ellen Hermanson Foundation, Julie Ratner, explained.

New to the organization’s website are two compelling videos. The first is by Bobby Priel-Gelb that captures the excitement, warmth, atmosphere, and love at last year’s Ellen’s Run event.

The second is done by Julie Ratner’s daughter Remy as she documents one of the support groups at Ellen’s Well. The women featured in the video are real cancer patients, one of whom tragically lost her battle. They discuss the importance of having a place to go where they can openly and freely discuss their experiences and how, in many ways, Ellen’s Well is saving their lives.

“We’re doing exactly what we’ve always been doing. The part that’s always changing are the new people being diagnosed, and the new challenges to reach out to those people and bring them in to get the support they need. What doesn’t change is our commitment to stay in the trenches and provide these services,” Ratner concluded.

Groups of five or more are considered a team and team entries are welcome for Ellen’s Run. The top three female and male runners will be awarded a trophy, including a prize for the first-place breast cancer survivor.

Parrish Memorial Hall is located at 235 Herrick Road in Southampton. Day-of-race registration is $45, pre-registration is $35 at ellensrun.org or 9:30 AM to 12:30 PM on Saturday, August 18.

nicole@indyeastend.com