Before the race, a roll call of remembrance and hope

Before the races began at the Oceanfront this weekend, members of the Hampton Roads DetermiNation team gathered Friday evening at the American Cancer Society office on Expressway Drive in Virginia Beach, Va.

Team runners and loved ones worked around a conference table. They made ready their signs and jerseys. They wrote name after name.

Lisa Creech, a 26-year-old Beach woman, decorated her jersey – and a tutu – with red and white ribbons ribbons affixed with safety pins. Each ribbon bore a name. Red ribbons were for survivors, white in memory of those cancer has claimed. Creech said:

My dad passed when I was 16.

Her father had non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. An uncle, a thyroid cancer survivor, has brain cancer and recently learned that he may have bladder cancer. She’s running for both of them. She’ll carry the names of many other people on ribbons:

I had one change from red to white right in the middle of fundraising. It just makes me want to kick butt that much harder.


Lisa Creech and her mother, Pam DeSantis, worked to decorate Creech's jersey and a tutu.

Mark Moritz, a 36-year-old Beach man, is running to raise money and awareness. He’s running in honor of his father-in-law, a survivor for six years now. Among others, he noted, looking at the many ribbons he had marked with names:

Not even everybody, I’m sure. I’m sure I’m missing somebody. …

I hope (the ACS) just keeps raising money. We know there’s a problem. The more people see it, the better the chances.


Mark Moritz holds up his jersey, decorated with names of cancer survivors and others whose lives have been lost to the disease.

Mimi Kopassis worked with her daughter, 23-year-old Eleni Kopassis, who is running to help the fight against cancer, and for family and friends. Mom is proud:

I think it’s awesome. A wonderful cause. We need to have more people participate.

Eleni Kopassis said the people who are battling various forms of the disease are her inspiration:

If people can survive cancer, you can pretty much do anything.


Eleni and Mimi Kopassis hold the jersey Eleni will wear when she runs this weekend.

The American Cancer Society DetermiNation program involves a number of endurance events across the country. You can learn more about the society and the program at this link. You can learn more about the Shamrock weekend effort by the local team here. And donate, too.

After the jerseys and posters and a tutu were decorated on Friday, there was a dinner. Lots of pasta and bread. Pure carb loading.

My wife, Cortney, spoke about her recovery from thyroid cancer during the dinner. For those who know us, you know what our past few months have been like. You also know that we’ve been lucky and blessed. And you know that saying I’m proud of her is only the tip of something I can’t seem to put into words.

Here’s one thing she had to say last night:

When it becomes your reality, it’s terrifying.

But of course there’s hope. That’s why a lot of folks among the runners at the Shamrock this weekend are carrying names with them. White ribbons to remember, red to show this thing can be beat.

A few shorts months after her operation and her treatment, my wife is running tomorrow. She’s running for a lot of folks we know and love. She’s also wearing a red ribbon for one of the many heroes running this weekend – herself.


Cortney Doucette, my wife, holds up one of the ribbons she will wear during her run tomorrow at the Beach. She's one of the local DetermiNation team members raising money for the American Cancer Society.


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