Saturday, October 3 marks the 7th annual Pink Up The Pace 5K event, held in downtown St. Augustine. All proceeds from this signature local race go to benefit under-insured and uninsured patients struggling with breast cancer imaging, as well as helping to educate the public. Over the years, the race has grown to become St. Augustine’s largest 5K event.
MEET THE FOUNDER
Pink Up The Pace founder Cindy Chaconas and her team of volunteers are responsible for bringing this annual fundraising event to life, year after year. Cindy, a breast cancer survivor, has turned her own victory into a mission of helping ensure others receive the care they need. (You can read Cindy’s story here). With the race approaching we reached out to Cindy for some insights into Pink Up the Pace, as a nonprofit organization and charitable 5K event.
Q&A WITH CINDY
What is Pink Up The Pace all about?
CINDY: Pink Up The Pace is a nonprofit organization that assists uninsured (and under-insured) individuals needing diagnostic imaging for breast issues (including mammograms, ultrasound, MRIs and breast biopsies). Originally our mission was to help those under the age of 40 since Susan G. Komen and other organizations take care of those 40 and older, but sometimes they are past the screening process. As a result, they might not get picked up and fall through the cracks. The need in this community is there so we have opened our doors as needed, and assist women and men of all ages.
Do you have specific local partners for your services?
CINDY: We partner with the Wildflower Clinic (they are our main fund distributor), and other healthcare practitioners in the area who are grateful for the services we provide the community. Once the patient has a medical referral for a breast imaging exam we then have contracts with Flagler Imaging and Radiology Associates to provide the services needed. These contracts make it so that we get billed instead of the patient.
Tell us how the race got its start and how it has grown since the beginning:
CINDY: The race came first as a means of raising money for those in need of breast imaging and then the name, Pink Up The Pace, came about. As an Ancient City Road Runner (ACRR) member, I have always enjoyed the Thursday morning lighthouse run. That is how I got the idea. I always loved running by the Bayfront and down St. George street when it is quiet and empty. My mind just wanders and appreciates what this town has to offer. The race itself grew a lot in the first four years – by almost 50% more from the previous year (863, 1300, 2500, 3000). Since then it has been staying steady at about 2300. We have been blessed with great community support. It takes almost all year to plan the race so it is our main fundraiser. It takes up a good amount of time and trying to plan anything else would be overwhelming.
CINDY: If I did not have the support of my husband, family and wonderful board then I definitely don’t think I could keep doing it. It takes up a lot of time, dedication, and passion. When the race expo and event arrive, it brings it all back into perspective as to why I do it. The community support, the emotions that are seen those two days, the appreciation and gratitude from individuals is rewarding and reminds me and the board as to why we do it.
CINDY: My vision for the future is to find a way to educate people on the importance of self detection and the importance of knowing their body as no one knows it better. People need to learn to be advocates for themselves. The best way of doing this is teaching them young in high school or doing symposiums for the community. Breast cancer affects anyone and everyone and at any age so the more they know, the better.
REGISTER FOR PINK UP THE PACE
Pink Up The Pace 5K Run/Walk begins at 8 a.m. on Saturday October 3 in downtown St. Augustine. Packet Pickup is Friday, October 2 from 3-7 p.m., at First Coast Technical College, 2980 Collins Ave. Parking the morning of the event is available in the parking garage and on city streets where signs permit. As the name suggests, running in pink attire is encouraged. The theme of this year’s event is Pedro Goes Pink, in conjunction with St. Augustine’s milestone birthday year. Registration is $30 for adults; $15 for children 14 and under. Survivors receive a free pink tech shirt and on race day pose for a survivor picture at 7:30 a.m. by the Pink Heals Fire Truck.
To learn more about Pink Up The Pace, and register for this year’s 5K event, visit www.pinkupthepace.com.
Be sure to follow along with Pink Up The Pace on Facebook.