Strykers help fight cancer - U.S. troops in Iraq take part in race for the cure

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Soldiers at Camp Stryker in Iraq ran a 5-kilometer race that kicked off simultaneously with a Ride for the Cure bicycle race in Clarksville, Tenn., April 19.

The idea to do a run for the cure of breast cancer in Iraq came from Army Capt. Troy King’s wife, a breast cancer survivor.

King, commander of the 101st Airborne Division’s Company B, 626th Brigade Support Battalion, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, said he was happy to help the cause, but he was planning the run on a smaller scale at first, like a company run. When word spread, however, more people wanted to take part.

“At first we started off small with a company run and a few other folks,” King said. “But then we signed up as a team. Then we set up the Rakkasan Run for the Cure, and it just sort of blossomed from there.”

The support of his battalion commander, Lt. Col. Mathew Redding, and brigade commander, Col. Dominic Caraccilo, made it easier for King to take the run to another level, he said.

The Rakkasans showed their support and responded in the form of 196 registered runners, more than $6,400 in donations and about $4,500 from the sale of t-shirts and registration fees. In all, more than 300 people participated in the event on Camp Striker.

As the crowd gathered for the race, runners stretched and laughed, and a bit of the Rakkasans’ competitive nature surfaced as people set their sights on other runners.

Cellular phones were used to synchronize the start times of the run at Camp Striker and the Ride for the Cure race in Clarksville.

Upon hearing “go,” the runners took off. After jockeying for position, it occurred to some of the runners why they were really running.

“When I was a little kid, my grandmother died of breast cancer, and my mom had a scare a few years back, so I had that on my mind,” said 1st Lt. Brendan Crane, a distribution platoon leader with Company A, 626th BSB.

Crane said he was moved by signs along the race route that showed how many have been affected by breast cancer. “It really hit me as I ran by, so getting tired really wasn’t an option,” he said.

His resilience carried Crane to a first place finish with a time of 19:15. Though the race had prizes for the first and second place finishers for men and women, the race had no losers.

Army Command Sgt. Maj. Gregory Patton, of 3rd Brigade Combat Team, greeted everyone who finished after him with cheers and high-fives. With his own mother being a breast cancer survivor, the run itself meant more to him than who placed first.

“The run was in remembrance of all the women who are survivors of breast cancer — the daughters, the sisters, the wives and the mothers — everyone who has been subjected to the disease,” Patton said. “We’re trying to ensure our daughters and their daughters don’t have to go through the things our generation has gone through.”

Updated 11:48 am, January 16, 2019
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