New Jersey family travels to Denver for race Arvada daughter ran

Tenth anniversary of race promotes awareness around ovarian cancer

Posted 6/12/19

Every year, runners and walkers from more than 30 states come out to Denver for Jodi’s Race for Awareness, many of them drawn to the race’s status as the second largest ovarian cancer run in the …

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New Jersey family travels to Denver for race Arvada daughter ran

Tenth anniversary of race promotes awareness around ovarian cancer

Posted

Every year, runners and walkers from more than 30 states come out to Denver for Jodi’s Race for Awareness, many of them drawn to the race’s status as the second largest ovarian cancer run in the country.

For one New Jersey family, however, the draw of the race also stems from its Colorado setting. That setting stands just miles from the former Arvada home of the family’s daughter, Erica Inerfeld, who previously participated in the race in after creating the team “We Love Eggs.”

“It was close to her,” said Barbara Inerfeld, Erica’s mother. “She felt strongly enough to help others.”

With her husband, son and daughter-in-law, Barbara has traveled to the race every year since losing her daughter in 2014. Erica was diagnosed with stage II ovarian cancer in 2011 after dealing with several symptoms she was unfamiliar with and attributed to her athletic lifestyle.

The family was first motivated to establish their annual tradition when Erica’s friends asked for permission to continue running the race on the team Erica had created.

“We told them, `not only do we feel honored you would do such, but we’ll come out for it,’” Barbara said.

She added that she will walk the race this year instead of running it.

“I feel like Erica is laughing at us,” she said, “because my idea of a triatholon is sleeping, eating and shopping.”

This year, Jodi’s Race for Awareness will celebrate its tenth anniversary on June 8 at City Park in Denver, 2001 Colorado Blvd. Started by Coloradan Jodi Brammeier, who passed away from the disease in 2010, the race seeks to raise awareness about signs of ovarian cancer to encourage earlier diagnosis and treatment.

“It’s a very special event in that we honor survivors and memorialize those who have been lost,” said race director Jeanene Smith. The associate director of the Colorado Ovarian Cancer Alliance (COCA), Smith first got involved with the group after her own ovarian cancer went into remission.

The nonprofit raises an annual net profit of about $200,000 through the race, going on to provide a number of services throughout the year: financial assistance, support groups and other opportunities, such as connecting cancer survivors with medical students to increase knowledge about the disease.

This year’s 5K will boast a slew of bells and whistles, including a photo booth, cheerleaders, a one-mile version of the race and a chance for participants to register their pets as runners.

“We have almost 100 dogs registered,” Smith said. “One year, we even had a pig in a baby stroller.”

The finish line of the race will be adorned with 220 wreaths to memorialize the 220 Colorado women who die from ovarian cancer each year, with some of the wreaths personalized by families, Smith said.

The alliance also holds a survivor’s breakfast before the race each year, which is known for giving survivors a strand of beads for every year they have survived cancer.

“It gives those who have just one strand a lot of hope to see these other women,” Smith said.

For the Inerfelds, attending the race will continue as a tradition until their ultimate goal is met: “we’re hoping there will be a cure,” Barbara said.

Until then, she said, there are a number of smaller goals to achieve: increasing the number of ovarian cancer tests covered by insurance companies, educating women on symptoms and encouraging women not to brush those symptoms off.

“You don’t see much about it, and it really needs to get out there,” she said. “No other parent should have to do this. Women need to be heard and speak up.”

Additionally, the race provides an opportunity for the family to reconnect with their daughter, who loved all things athletic and worked hard to raise awareness around cancer - once even convincing a friend to be tested and treated to prevent her own cancer, Barbara said.

“She worked until the very end, and there isn’t a minute we stop thinking about her,” she said. “We do not let her memory die.”

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