OCEAN CITY – Race officials with Susan G. Komen Maryland are gearing up for the resort’s Sixth Annual Komen Maryland Ocean City Race for the Cure event this Saturday.
More than 1,000 participants have already signed up to partake in the event, inundating the Boardwalk in pink apparel.
Kim Schmulowitz, Komen Maryland’s communications and marketing director, said the race is a successful fundraiser for the organization.
In the last five years, Schmulowitz said race participants have raised more than $1.3 million, 75 percent of which has stayed in the tri-county area to fund grants and programs that provide screenings, treatment and support.
This year, the national organization has set a new goal to reduce U.S. breast cancer mortality 50 percent by 2026, mostly by addressing disparities.
“We believe we can reduce breast cancer deaths by one-third with no new science, simply by addressing healthcare disparities,” Mark Roeder, Komen Maryland’s Executive Director, said in a statement. “Maryland’s Eastern Shore is an area where we see inequities in breast cancer care, especially among minority populations.”
Schmulowitz said many rural communities, such as the Eastern Shore region, are considered at-risk areas because of its limited access to health care.
Komen Maryland’s 2015 Community Profile identified Worcester, Wicomico, Somerset and Dorchester counties as priority areas for the organization.
More specifically, statistics from Worcester and Wicomico counties show that late-stage breast cancer diagnosis rates have increased and irregular mammograms in women ages 40 and older remain high.
With a monetary goal of $175,000 for this weekend’s race, Schmulowitz said the organization can use the money to fund research and improve statistics. As of Tuesday, more than $60,000 has been raised.
“That’s a goal we are looking towards here locally,” Schmulowitz said.
As of Monday, 1,150 individuals have signed up for the race, down 17 percent from last year. Schmulowitz attributes this downward trend to a more competitive charitable racing market and an earlier racing date than in years past.
“It’s a week earlier than last year because of Easter,” she said. “It was the only date the town could offer us.”
Schmulowitz said that normally half of all registration takes place in the two weeks leading up the race, and that Komen officials are expected more than 1,500 to sign up this year.
Brad Hoffman, event promoter, said it’s not too late to join the race.
Online registration for the race ends April 5 at noon, but those wishing to participate can also sign up on site prior to the event.
The Race Village will open for registration, package pickups and warm-ups at 7:30 Saturday morning. Runners and walkers will begin the race at 9 a.m. on the Boardwalk. Ocean City Mayor Rick Meehan will act as this year’s race chair.
The race will have a competitive 5K for those walking and running, as well as a family-friendly, one-mile course. The race will start at the inlet.
“You don’t have to be a fierce runner to do the event,” Hoffman said. “It’s more about the comradery.”
Following the race, there will be a beer garden, Survivor Parade and dance party, featuring two DJs.
Those staying in the area throughout the weekend will also have the opportunity to partake in other events.
On April 7, Ropewalk will host a pre-race celebration from 5-8 p.m. at its location on 82nd Street Bayside, where race participants can enjoy happy hour drink specials and complimentary hot appetizers.
The Town of Berlin will be hosting its own Pink Party and Costume Contest to benefit Komen Maryland from 1-5 p.m. Saturday afternoon.
Seacrets will also be hosting a celebratory party Saturday evening from 6-8 p.m. There will be a DJ, happy hour drink pricing and free hot appetizers for race participants.
Hoffman said that this weekend’s race and related activities bring a festive atmosphere to both the Boardwalk and surrounding towns, and encouraged both community members and businesses to join.
“I do a lot of events, but it’s one of the most emotional, uplifting events,” Hoffman said. “It’s a great way to spend the weekend or day at the beach and be a part of something fun, pink and uplifting.”
Lori Yates, Komen Maryland’s Eastern Shore manager, said the event is a gratifying way to generate income for grants that directly impact women on the area.
“We are just hoping for a great day with sunny weather,” she said.
For more information, or to register for the race, visit komenmd.org.