This morning I blogged about a crew of DOT runners supporting Jasmine "Jazzy" Jordan last Thursday. Well, I'm proud to tell you we had another DOT team out in force on Saturday for the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure®.
And this time I was available to join them!
Founded in 1982 by Peoria native Nancy Brinker in memory of her sister, Susan G. Komen for the Cure® is widely recognized as the leading non-profit organization of the global breast cancer community. Their signature event, the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure®, with its tens of thousands of participants and its creative t-shirt slogans, is widely recognized as the most visible symbol of the movement to eradicate this disease.
My wife Kathy and I have long been participants in this event in our home state of Illinois, so supporting Honorary Chair Dr. Jill Biden with my fellow Cabinet Secretaries Gary Locke (Commerce) and Kathleen Sebelius (Health and Human Services) was an easy choice.
But for many of the 40,000 others who joined us for the 21st running of this event, completing the 5k course is not so easy. Many of them are still-grieving survivors of loved ones who lost the fight with breast cancer. Many are recent breast cancer survivors. And many are currently wrestling with cancer or are champions of those battling the disease.
That's what makes the annual Parade of Pink, where breast cancer survivors march onto the National Mall prior to the race, such a thrill. And Saturday was no exception; it's impossible to watch these strong survivors walk by without being overcome by what they've endured to get to this moment.
I was proud to be joined Saturday by Maggie Gunnels, who works at DOT's Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, and is herself a survivor of ovarian cancer.
Maggi, a former nurse who says she will "walk for just about any kind of cancer," directs FMCSA's Office of Medical Programs, which ensures that our nation's professional truck and bus drivers are healthy enough to operate their vehicles safely.
She is also an active member of DOT's informal network of cancer survivors and those still fighting cancer. So, I want to ask anyone reading this from DOT who has any type of cancer, please, don't go it alone. Maggie encourages you to contact her confidentially and find a supportive DOT community that "really helps each other survive."
You know, it's more than just a coincidence that DOT runners and walkers would turn out twice in three days to support very worthy causes. Because the people I have met during the past 16 months at DOT have service in their blood. Whether it's helping Habitat for Humanity, cleaning up a site near a local park, donating food for the homeless, or walking and running to raise money--service is not what they do; it's who they are.