For the first time, the Alaska Run for Women will have eight honorary starters kick off the race, June 12 – 19, 2021. During the course of the eight-day event, a different honorary starter will each day inspire participants to safely hit the trails, treadmills, parks, and neighborhoods nationwide. The number eight marks that 1-in-8 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in her lifetime.
The eight Alaska Run for Women honorary starters represent women from all over Alaska – survivors, supporters, and front line workers, each with their own unique story to share but with a common bond to broaden awareness and education about breast health and breast cancer.
“There are so many elements to breast cancer from diagnosis to treatment," says Kathy Wisthoff, Alaska Run for Women board of directors co-president and original founding member.
"We wanted to showcase not only the warrior survivors, but those who offer critical services to help them along their journey."
2021 Alaska Run for Women Honorary Starters:
April Powers, Anchorage, 13-year breast cancer survivor
Andrea Huyck, Homer, 10-year breast cancer survivor
Dawn Richard, Kotzebue, lead mammography technician at ManiilaqHealth Center
Megan MacKiernan, Nome, two time breast cancer survivor and physician assistant at Norton Sound Health Corporation
Amanda Priest, Anchorage, lead mammography technologist at Anchorage Neighborhood Health Center
SuluaStager, Kodiak, mammography technologist at Providence Kodiak Island Medical Center
Dr. Jessica Panko, Fairbanks, radiologist who specializes in breast imaging
Britney Hert, Anchorage, mammography technologist for Providence Imaging Center and driver of the mobile mammography unit.
Each honorary starter will share their individual stories via video and pictorial on the Alaska Run for Women Facebookpage on their given day emphasizing the importance of self-exam, early detection, and keeping up with their annual screening. Multiple studies show that mammograms save lives and the COVID-19 pandemic has presented unique challenges for individuals to maintain their annual exams.
For 2021, the Alaska Run for Women includes participants from all 50 states, as well as the District of Columbia, with 61 Alaska communities represented, and 301 survivors. Sixty-seven percent of participants are registered as part of a team to date. There is no registration fee to participate in the Alaska Run for Women, so that those in breast cancer treatment face no economic challenges to participate. All funds raised from the donation-based race support the Alaska Run for Women grant program, which to date has raised more than $5.2 million since 1993 to support breast cancer awareness, education, and research programs.
“Covid-19 has created an unusual bonus for the event, providing the opportunity to broaden the field of participants across the United States. This is especially beneficial for family members and friends living out-of-state who in the past have been unable to participate in person. States with the largest number of teams outside of Alaska include Washington, Virginia, and California.”
The eight days will feature a host of daily promotions on the Alaska Run for Women Facebook and Instagram pages including musical playlists, prizes and a variety of ways for participants to engage. A special promotion, Where in the World is PeaRLasks participants to post pictures throughout the week of their adventures with the event's mascot and logo, the Pink Running Lady, otherwise known as PeaRL(downloadableat www.akrfw.org). An Opening Ceremony event will take place on Facebooklive Saturday, June 12, 2021, at 9 a.m., with a morning warm-up hosted by Olympic Gold Medalist KikkanRandall and two-time Olympian Sadie Maubet Bjornsen,