Balloon release for breast cancer awareness kicks off weekend event

Published 12:19 am Friday, October 5, 2018


NATCHEZ — After a kick-off balloon release and reception at the Natchez Grand Hotel on Thursday evening, the bluff city will host its third-annual 5K race in affiliation with the Memphis-MidSouth Mississippi Susan G. Komen race for the cure.

Faith Stretch — event chairwoman for “Natchez River Runs Pink” race — said runners and walkers will make a lap through downtown starting at 8 a.m. Saturday and covering Broadway, State, Martin Luther King Jr., Homochitto, Arlington, John R. Quitman and Main streets for a $10 registration cost.

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Registration starts at 7 a.m. Saturday before the race for $10 per person, Stretch said, and T-shirts will be sold for an additional $10.

“This is a fundraiser,” she said, “and we automatically give 25 percent of proceeds to breast cancer research and the other 75 percent goes to help those in our local community who are not insured or underinsured receive mammograms or other needs … I’d like to see that continue to grow.”

Stretch said her passion for the cause was born out of her own struggle with cancer after she was diagnosed twice — first in 2011 and again in 2015, she said.

Stretch founded the race in Natchez three years ago, after she felt inspired watching her son run in her honor, she said, and now Stretch hopes to inspire others while raising money to fight cancer.

“My son ran for me in Jackson,” she said. “I saw all these people wearing pink. I saw all this love and support and unity. I asked God right then and there if I could bring that to Natchez. … My theme is ‘give love and run’ and that’s what we aim to do.”

Several special guests provided both information and stories of inspiration at the reception Thursday, including Lance Boyd, the CEO of Natchez Merit Health hospital; Jose Barba, a doctor of radiation oncology at Caring River Cancer Center; Crystal S. Cook, a doctor of internal medicine at Jefferson Comprehensive Health Center in Natchez; and Julie Timm, a breast cancer survivor.