185th Air Refueling Wing Leads the Way in Race for Hope

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt Rich Murphy
  • 185th ARW Public Affairs
The cool fog from the Missouri River slowly dissipates into the warm summer air as Airmen from the 185th Air Refueling Wing (ARW) in Sioux City, Iowa prepare for their physical fitness test. While the fitness test challenges the Airmen to push themselves harder, many of them are training for something even more meaningful.

This September, the 185th ARW will serve as the Honorary Ambassadors for the 14th Annual June E. Nylen Cancer Center's Race for Hope. The wing has made a goal of 150 guard member participants this year. U.S. BankĀ®, the official sponsor of the race, has agreed to provide additional funding if the 185th is able to reach that goal.

The June E. Nylen Cancer Center is Siouxland's Center for treating and supporting individuals diagnosed with various forms of cancer. Their mission is to provide quality, compassionate cancer care through prevention, treatment, and research. Proceeds from this race will be used to support new equipment and programs at the Cancer Center. Pat Hubbard, the director of fundraising at the Center, said, "We hope to raise enough money to purchase new chemotherapy treatment chairs, a new fitness program for cancer patients, a support group for the children of cancer patients, and lobby enhancements for the benefit of our cancer patients."

"We chose the 185th this year to be our ambassadors because we know a lot of members here who struggle with cancer and their stories are so important," added Hubbard. As ambassadors, the 185th ARW provides a "face-to-the-race." Many of the members will get a chance to talk about their struggles with cancer at the event.

Jean Gill, the June E. Nylen Race for Hope coordinator, said the 185th made perfect sense. "The 185th has pretty much been a part of this since the race has started. They have always been interested in volunteering to help out on the course. One of the commander's of the 185th , Col. Thomas Consadine, passed away because of cancer and his wife was the president of the running club here in Sioux City. So really, the 185th has always been strongly connected this race. It just seemed natural to ask them to be the honorary ambassador."

The Run for Hope typically honors one person as the ambassador, but because of the many stories at the 185th ARW, the June E. Nylen Cancer Center decided, for the first time, to honor an entire group.

"The 185th ARW considers it to be a great honor to be selected as this year's ambassadors," said Air Force Master Sgt. Marty Hogan, finance manager at the 185th ARW and the spokesperson for the unit. "The 185th prides itself on a long-standing tradition of positive community presence. It is in this presence that we are allowed to return the great partnership and support shown to us by the local Siouxland community."

Carolyn Hogan, Master Sgt. Hogan's wife, was recently diagnosed with cancer and is using the June E. Nylen Cancer Center for treatment. Hogan said, "There are so many people out there affected by cancer. Even in our little unit, you have several members that are affected one way or another. Since Carolyn was diagnosed, I have people from all over the unit coming to me and sharing their stories. I was amazed at how prevalent cancer is. This is why races like this are so important."

Hogan trains yearly for marathons. While he keeps busy with work and helping his wife through treatment, he said this experience has made him a stronger person and a better runner. "When I am training and I am at that 20 mile marker, and I am near exhaustion, I just think about all that my wife is going through, and that helps me push through the little bit of pain I am feeling."

Hogan added, "Cancer has touched a great majority of us all and the 185th membership is no different. Many of our family, friends, and co-workers have been affected and this year the 185th will be challenging our members to run as a team, as an individual, and to keep in mind that we are running for a cause larger than any one of us."

Air Force Major Jerry Self, a member of the 185th ARW, was diagnosed with Acute Myeloid Leukemia (AML) and uses the Nylen Cancer Center for treatments and follow-up examinations. "I am really appreciative of the center. When I heard that the 185th was the ambassador for the race, I thought it was appropriate. So many members out here are affected in some way by cancer."

Self sees a direct connection from the fitness and his recovery. "Times have changed. It used to be that you would sit around and rest for months during recovery. I started back running early this summer to train for the fit test and it hurt at first. But now I feel better than I did before I got sick and I believe it is helping me recover quickly."

Since the eight members of the 185th ARW began competing in races and marathons in 2004 as "Team 185th", the team has seen significant growth. Last year, at the Siouxland Lewis and Clark Marathon, over 50 members raced on behalf of the unit. The team competed strongly and included several members finishing top three in their divisions.

Hogan anticipates a successful performance from "Team 185th." "I expect to see us shine this year. There is a traveling trophy awarded for the fastest team time. We have some great runners here and I expect this trophy to come home to roost here for many years to come."

Racers and volunteers are still needed for the race. If you are interested in helping out you can reach Jean Gill at jrgill@nntc.net or Marty Hogan at marty.hogan@ang.af.mil.

The 14th annual Race for Hope event is Saturday, September 18, 7:30 a.m. at the Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve and features a 15K, 5K run or walk, and kids' fun run. The race includes individual and team competitions as well as a leisurely walking-for-fun entry. For more information about this race and June Nylen Cancer Center, visit their website at http://www.nylencancercenter.com. You can also contribute to the June E. Nylen Cancer center through the Combined Federal Campaign.

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