ALLEGANY — Hundreds of local community members gathered Saturday morning at Allegany Fireman’s Park to participate in the fifth annual Pink Pumpkin Project 5K Walk/Run, which supports local women with breast cancer.
Herds of people donning pink gear gathered around the starting point at 8 a.m., prepared to begin the walk and race. Some wore t-shirts with the names of loved ones they were running or walking for, while others joined the pack in support of their community.
The race was sponsored by the Pink Pumpkin Project, an organization which supports women with breast cancer in the Southern Tier of New York and northern Pennsylvania.
Danyelle Bliven ran the 5K race with her daughters.
“I think (this event) brings everyone together and that it brings awareness to breast cancer,” she said. “Cancer affects so many of us. Everybody’s been affected by it at some point.”
Bliven explained that she and her daughters ran in memory of her aunt, who lost her life to breast cancer.
While this was Bliven’s first time running the Pink Pumpkin Project 5K, she said that she and her family support various events throughout Western New York.
“To be knowledgeable, to know what to do, to raise money for those who might need extra things that don’t have them, is great,” said Bliven.
Maren Bush, an organizer of the 5K, said the event is meant to do exactly that.
“My favorite part about this race is sending messages of hope, faith and togetherness to support a cause that affects so many people in our small community,” Bush said.
Just over 300 people registered for Saturday’s event, whether to participate in the walk or run or as a participant in this year’s virtual race, designed to add an option for those who could not make the race in person.
Bush said the goals for this year’s race were to gather at least 300 participants and raise more than $10,000.
Bush noted that organizers have a lot of help from the community when planning the 5K. Saturday’s race had more than 15 local business sponsorships.
“There are a lot of people who come to us and say they want to help … the community is extremely gracious and generous,” Bush said.
Participants supported the cause by purchasing raffle tickets and donating money beyond their registration fees on Saturday. Bush said that on race day alone, organizers received over $2,000 in donations.
“Every little bit helps,” said Joe Crowley, who walked.
Crowley said it was meaningful to have people around increasing visibility for breast cancer, adding, “It’s the first time we’re doing this, and we’ll probably do it more often now.”
Lynn Anzivine, founder of the Pink Pumpkin Project, noted that the 5K served as a kickoff to the project’s season, sharing their excitement about next weekend’s fifth annual Pink Pumpkin Project Celebration, which honor survivors and current breast cancer fighters.
Anzivine said she was, “more than happy with how the race turned out.”
Gretchen Copella, who ran Saturday’s race, added, “I think it’s great that they’ve been able to take this from the ground up. There’s a fantastic turnout today, and it just goes to show you what you can do if you believe in something.”