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My Cancer Hero 5K run draws runners of all ages

They turned out bright and early on Saturday morning to don their numbers, do some warm-up stretches and prepare to run—or walk—for a worthy cause.

Abbie Gardner Ballew and her State Farm Insurance Agency crew once again hosted the Third Annual My Cancer Hero 5K Walk/Run last weekend. The event, a fundraiser for the Butler County Relay For Life for the American Cancer Society, began and ended at Fort Dale Academy. Cheering well-wishers awaited approximately 75 participants as, one by one, they crossed the finish line. Volunteer Wes Marcus officially timed each runner/walker before they turned in their numbers and took a well-earned opportunity to rest and re-hydrate.

For the first time, rather than sponsor logos, the names of the friends and loved ones for whom the participants had chosen to run their race covered the back of the event’s official t-shirt, “because they are what this is all about,” stressed Ballew.

Ballew, who lost her own father, Jimmy Gardner, to cancer, and has seen her mother, Mollie Pouncey, successfully battle the disease, expressed her delight over the large turnout of participants of all ages for the annual event.

“I have a great group of volunteers who make this event possible and then all of you who come out and participate. Thank you so much for being a part of My Cancer Hero,” Ballew said on Saturday morning.

Overall winner for the event was Trenton Thompson with John Stryker in second place. Emma Jo Thomas took first place honors in the female ages 10-19 category, with Trey Taylor in first place for the males in that age group.

Barrett Leverette was the first place runner for females ages 20-29, while Mitch Bozeman took first place for the males.

In the 30-39 category, Jessica Miller took first place for the females, with Brandon Slagley earning first place honors for the males.

For females 40-49, Cindy Gaston was the front runner and for the males, Dave Crenshaw took first place honors.

Melody Pipkin was in first place for females ages 50-59, with Greg Hartley first place male in that age division. In the 60-69 age division, Jane Pierce finished in first place for the women, while Garry Newton earned first place among the men.

And Bill Thomas came in as number one among all 70-plus runners.

The younger set got to engage in their own Fun Run, with everyone enjoying a balloon release to close out My Cancer Hero’s 2018 edition.

Gerri McGinnis, who heads up the 2018 RFL Committee in Butler County, was there to help cheer on the participants.

“Abbie and her team always do a great job on this event. It’s just one  of several successful fundraisers that’s been held this year. From the Miss Relay Pageant by the Helping Hearts team a few weeks ago to Comfort Care Hospice’s recent big camp stew sale and other events, our teams are already hard at work raising funds and awareness,” said McGinnis. “I am so proud and appreciative of each and every member of every team for their efforts.”

Butler County’s Relay For Life for the American Cancer Society is set for Saturday, June 23 from 2 p.m. to 10 p.m. at the Butler County Fairgrounds.