Participants raised more than $150,000 in the San Diego Breath of Hope Lung Cancer Walk, said Mike Stevens, one of the event’s organizers.
A passionate survivor of the disease who recruited members of his Sunrise Rotary Club to help with the March 8 event, Stevens said, he’s trying to spread the word that lung cancer is not just caused by smoking.
“We also can’t solve it by funding smoking cessation,” he said. “Aids was not cured by giving out condoms. The success in the survival rate was from biomed research.”
This was the first year for the 5k walk that benefits LUNGevity Foundation, a private supporter of research funding for the disease that causes one in three cancer deaths. It was held at the downtown San Diego Cancer Survivors Park and drew more than 1,500 participants.
Stevens was joined by two other survivors, Kathleen Larson and Maria Diaz Enruquez, on the organizing committee. Enruquez had to leave the group a few months before the walk because cancer had metastasized to her brain and she had to have surgery, said Stevens, whose wife Susan also was on the organizing committee.
Another survivor, Linda Schwenkmeyer, joined later, he said, although “as she became more ill, her husband Karl stepped in.”
She died of the disease about a month before the walk, he added.
This year, lung cancer became the No. 1 cancer in both the death rate and, for the first time, the incidence rate, Stevens noted.