19th Race for the Cure

Today 9 a.m.-6 p.m.: In-person registration and packet pick-up, Family Circle Stadium, Daniel Island. Fee to enter the 5K or 1-mile fun run is $30.Saturday6:15 A.M.:Free shuttles start leaving from Old Navy at Tanger Outlet in North Charleston and The Gap at Mount Pleasant Towne Centre.7 a.m.: Race for the Cure Expo, Sponsor Village and Survivor Tent opens, and late registration and packet pickup resumes on stadium grounds.8 a.m.: Pretty in Pink Survivor Celebration on steps in front of stadium.8:15 A.M.:Last shuttles depart from Tanger and Towne Centre.8:30 A.M.: One-mile fun run and walk starts at Seven Farms and River Landing drives.9:15 A.M.: Timed 5K starts at Seven Farms and River Landing.10 a.m.: Awards ceremony scheduled to start.11:45 A.M.: Last shuttles leave Daniel Island to return to Tanger and Towne Centre.MiscellaneousBecause of traffic congestion, participants are strongly urged to take free shuttles. Those driving to Daniel Island are strongly urged to carpool and arrive early.Last year’s event drew 10,600 registrants and raised $900,000, of which 75 percent funded programs in the 17 counties served by the Komen Lowcountry affiliate. The other 25 percent funds national research and projects by Komen.This year, officials will be timing all participants in the 5K. Previously, only about a third of participants chose to be timed. The previous record for timed participants was 3,070 in 2010. Last year’s timed finisher total was 2,828. On the Webwww.komenlowcountry.org

One of the most promising recruits in the battle against breast cancer, locally and nationally, won’t be running or walking in Saturday’s 19th annual Komen Lowcountry Race for the Cure.

Instead, College of Charleston freshman Amber Heyward, a national Komen Collegiate Ambassador, will be in the trenches at her first Race for the Cure event, manning the “I Am The Cure” booth and interacting with some of the 10,000-12,000 expected to attend.

The 17-year-old North Charleston resident is the first person in South Carolina to win the prestigious international-level Komen scholarship, which pays $10,000 a year for four years. The scholarship, which hundreds competed for, is awarded to children of parents who passed away from breast cancer.

Amber’s mother, Jackie Heyward, died from breast cancer on May 17, 2011, after a three-year battle.

“It was really hard,” says Amber, noting that her mother home-schooled her from the sixth through ninth grade. “We were very close. She was my best friend.”

Today, Amber is funneling that pain into something positive: raising awareness among college-age adults about breast cancer and vowing to make breast cancer awareness a large part of her life’s mission.

Reaching the young

Needless to say, the Lowcountry affiliate of Komen for the Cure is overjoyed to have her as part of its team. Staffers already note that Amber is energetic and ambitious about starting her efforts.

“We are thrilled,” says Lucy Spears, the affiliate’s community outreach coordinator. “While it (her scholarship) stems from unfortunate circumstances, having her as a Komen ambassador is great for the Lowcountry.”

Spears adds that Amber will be able to reach two groups of people: college-age women and African-American women, who need to be more aware.

“African-American women not only often develop breast cancer at a younger age, but types of breast cancer they get tend to be more aggressive,” Spears said.

The veteran coach

Meanwhile, another local woman, Hanahan High School volleyball coach Wendy Anderson, will mark her 10th consecutive Race for Cure on Saturday.

The first Race for the Cure she walked was in honor of a friend’s mother who died from breast cancer.

The following year, in the fall of 2004 when she was coaching at The Citadel, Anderson herself was diagnosed with breast cancer. Her diligence — doing self-breast exams and following through on diagnosis — led to catching the cancer early, though she admitted to being “shocked” to hear the news.

Today, the 45-year-old brings breast cancer awareness home to Hanahan High, holding a “Dig for the Cure” volleyball fundraiser for Komen and getting her team to volunteer as course marshals during the race, as well as being a speaker for the affiliate when they need her.

“This is a way to educate young people, especially athletes, that they are not invincible and that they need to be aware,” Anderson says.

With dedicated volunteers, both veterans and newbies, Komen Lowcountry Affiliate coordinator Lisa Jones says the word that a staggering one in eight women will have breast cancer during their lifetimes will get out.