When they first heard about the CalvertHealth Foundation’s 10th annual Breast Cancer 5K Color Walk/Run just over two weeks before the Oct. 5 event, the residents of the Asbury Solomons retirement community sprang into action.
In the end, a total of 44 registrants, 23 of which took part in the event and 14 of whom are breast cancer survivors, took part in the event and raised $1,800.
“Well, how proud would you be?” asked Asbury resident Peggy Hovermale, who helped organize the last-minute team. “It was unbelievable. I am just so proud of everybody at Asbury who was able to do it either in spirit or by giving.”
“I think that’s actually very typical of Asbury” residents, said CalvertHealth Foundation grant development coordinator Melissa Carnes, who ended up being part of the team. “I think the community is very incredibly generous. Some of those that registered are survivors themselves, and I think the cause really is near and dear to their heart to help serve others in the community that have the disease. But them pulling it off doesn’t surprise me.”
Following a visit to Asbury by Carnes to talk about the run, Hovermale and some friends realized the community needed a team.
“Nobody said anything [about taking part], but I said, ‘We’ll go down there and shine,’” Hovermale said. “I felt there were people that would like to do it but wouldn’t on their own. I just think they felt they needed someone to be with, and didn’t want to go down [to the run alone], or didn’t know who to call.”
Hovermale has not been affected by breast cancer personally, but is well aware of what the disease is capable of. She spent 20 years working at a breast reconstruction surgical practice, lost her father (saliva gland), mother (bladder) and 22-year-old son (leukemia) and is a two-time survivor herself after conquering vocal cord cancer in 2004 and colon cancer in 2016.
So Hovermale — who was quick to point out it was a team effort — and friend and breast cancer survivor Nan Suydam began staking out the second floor piano lounge at lunchtime to recruit team members.
“The selling point was, ‘How do you feel about breast cancer because the money we collect here stays here [in the county]. It goes right to the Sheldon Goldberg [Cancer Center],” Hovermale said. “We want to keep people here instead of having them go all over the country to be treated so anything you give to us will be given to them, and if you have insurance, maybe someone else doesn’t, and it will help them. So that’s how we approached it. I’m not shy.”
And it worked as team members and donations started to pile up.
“We had people say, ‘Well, I can’t do it, but here’s some money, so maybe someone else can walk,’” Hovermale said. “I told them, ‘You can give me five dollars or one dollar. It doesn’t matter because you’re giving from your heart.’ Asbury residents were totally behind this.”
The run celebrated both the 10-year anniversary of the opening of the state-of-the-art Sheldon E. Goldberg Center for Breast Care and the 100th anniversary of the CalvertHealth Medical Center. Carnes said this year’s race drew a record 1,000 people, eclipsing the old record of 823 set more than five years ago. She said a final tally of proceeds has not yet been determined.
Last year’s race attracted 700 participants and raised more than $41,500.
Proceeds will benefit the Sheldon E. Goldberg Center for Breast Care, which received a boost when CalvertHealth recently hired world-renowned breast surgeon Ted Tsingaris.
“I was not surprised because they’re always doing great things in our community,” Carnes said, referring to Team Asbury and the $1,800 they raised. “I was surprised at the level of response they got so quickly, and I’m grateful they were able to do that. We’re very lucky to have them in our community.”
“It’s an amazing group of residents that are here,” said Hovermale, who has lived in the community for the past 15 years, “and they give of themselves so much.”