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Run for the Ribbons to raise cancer awareness and Cancer CARE funds

| Date Posted: 3/16/2011

Cinnamon LeBlanc

Cinnamon LeBlanc

Run for Ribbons

Three participants in the inaugural Run for the Ribbons 5K and Family Fun 1K in 2010 added a bit of whimsy to their running garb. Run for the Ribbons, which precedes the running of the Stoneybrook Steeplechase, is a fundraiser for the Moore Regional Hospital Foundation’s Cancer CARE Fund. The 2011 event is scheduled for Saturday, April 9.

Photo by Dana Danielson ~ Black Sheep Design

SOUTHERN PINES – There is a special place in Melissa Knotoff’s heart for the breast cancer survivor in whose honor she will carry a pink banner during the Run for the Ribbons 5K and Family Fun 1K preceding the 60th Stoneybrook Steeplechase on April 9.

Her thoughts will be on her mother, Louise Knotoff of Carthage, who is now fighting Stage IV colon cancer.

“My mother is really happy that I’m carrying the banner, and I hope she’s able to join me that day for the walk,” Knotoff says.

This is the second year for Run for the Ribbons, a fundraiser for the Moore Regional Hospital Foundation’s Cancer CARE Fund, which supports a variety of services for cancer patients, including FirstHealth’s Cancer Wellness Program. With a focus on exercise, education and support, the Cancer Wellness Program is located at the FirstHealth Center for Health & Fitness-Southern Pines, where Melissa Knotoff is a personal trainer and fitness coach.

Several of Knotoff’s co-workers will also carry Run for the Ribbons banners with colors signifying survivorship of the five cancers that are most frequently treated at the Community Hospital Comprehensive Cancer Center at FirstHealth Moore Regional Hospital: gray for lung, blue for prostate, dark blue for colorectal and yellow for bladder cancer as well as the pink for breast cancer.

“It’s really important for me to carry the banner and raise awareness about cancer,” Knotoff says.

Around 250 cancer patients have participated in the Cancer Wellness Program since it was started 10 years ago. Cinnamon LeBlanc, who manages the Southern Pines fitness center, has been with the program from the beginning. This year, she is encouraging Cancer Wellness participants, other cancer survivors, their families and friends to take part in the Run for the Ribbons events, especially the 1K Family Fun Run.

“The 1K is focused on cancer survivors and folks who aren’t regular runners,” LeBlanc says. “It’s a family fun run so anybody can participate.”

The Cancer CARE Fund – along with the Barbara McInnis Wellness Scholarship Fund – supports the Cancer Wellness Program by providing full or partial scholarships to participants, so LeBlanc has a special reason for hoping for a big turnout for both of the Run for the Ribbons races. Last year’s participation was especially good with more than 500 participants.

“This year, we’re hoping for more,” says LeBlanc.

LeBlanc encourages those who are thinking about participating in either the 5K or 1K to register online at or to visit the event website at Race day goes much more smoothly for those who pre-register, she says.

In addition to encouraging people to participate in the Run for the Ribbons events, LeBlanc is also working to assure a good experience for those who do. After Pam Hudson of the Foundation of FirstHealth delivers an invocation to begin the day’s activities, LeBlanc will lead participants in a rhythmic warm-up before they take to the field.

Participants will be encouraged to walk/run at their own pace. “We will also have lots of people there to keep folks safe,” LeBlanc says.

Physical activity is almost always an important part of disease recovery, but it is especially important in cancer, which can drain patients both physically and emotionally. FirstHealth’s Cancer Wellness Program is designed to help in both areas.

“Physical activity helps boost the immune system and elevate morale,” says LeBlanc. “It also improves strength and endurance so patients are more able to do what they need to do. A lot of times we take our overall wellness for granted.”

LeBlanc hopes the Run for the Ribbons events will help reinforce the overall need for physical activity while raising money “for a good cause” in memory or in honor of people who have dealt with or continue to deal with cancer.

Both she and her son, Clarence Young, ran in memory of loved ones last year. They plan to do the same this year. Young will run in memory of his father, and LeBlanc will run in memory of her son’s grandmother and her brother-in-law.

All three succumbed to colon cancer.

The Run for the Ribbons 5K and Family Fun Run, which is part of the Sandhills Race Series, will be held Saturday, April 9, in conjunction with the 60th running of the Stoneybrook Steeplechase at the Carolina Horse Park at Five Points in Raeford. The Carolina Horse Park Foundation and the Foundation of FirstHealth are partnering to raise cancer awareness and proceeds for Moore Regional Hospital Foundation’s Cancer CARE Fund. Registration fees include a T-shirt and admission to the Stoneybrook races that start at 1:30 p.m. The cost of 5K registration is $25 before April 1 and $30 after April 1. 1K registration is $10 before April 1 and $15 after April 1. Registration is accepted online via, and registration forms can be printed from the event website at For more information, call (910) 695-7510.

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