TUPELO • The annual Hope Continues run can be measured in more than kilometers.
Its impact can be weighed in mammograms, ultrasounds and lab work for the medically underserved around Northeast Mississippi.
“The community involvement and the support of the event has been tremendous,” Adam Morris said. “To see it grow as much as it did in its second year was amazing.”
In 2018, more than 1,000 people came out to flash their pink. On Saturday, organizers hope to bring 1,200 to Fairpark in downtown Tupelo for the 2019 5K and mile fun run.
“We’re ahead of last year’s registration,” Morris said.
Over the past two years, Hope Continues has raised $103,000 to help provide breast cancer screening to those who need it and support awareness efforts.
“We’re hoping we can do even more,” Morris said.
The goal is to get to $75,000, but Hope Continues will need a push from sponsors and participants to get there. Hope Continues operates as a special project of the CREATE Foundation, and donations are tax deductible.
“There’s still room to take more sponsors,” Morris said.
This year, the race has added teams and special T-shirts for survivors.
“There’ll be an award for largest team,” Morris said, in addition to the overall race awards and age division awards.
Morris, who has long been known for his colorful presence at local runs, will look a little different this year. He joined the staff of Herc Rentals and traded his signature mohawk, which he dyed pink for breast cancer runs, in favor of a more professional look. But he didn’t rule out a colorful outfit for race day.
“I’m not sure what I’ll do this year,” Morris said.
Join the fun
Online registration is available through Thursday at runsignup.com. The cost is $20 for the 1 mile walk, $25 for the 5K and $30 for the 5K with timing chip. Race day registration will increase by $5.
Packet pick up will be available at Core Cycle and Outdoor from 2 to 7 p.m. Friday.
The race will start at 8 a.m. at Fairpark in downtown Tupelo. After the race, NMMC Cancer Care will announce the winner of its annual Breast Cancer Advocate award.
Hope Continues keeps the fun going between the annual race. This year, Facebook followers chose seafoam green for the color of the race shirt and participated in giveaways from sponsors.
The all-volunteer organization pours its funds into making breast cancer screening accessible and increasing public knowledge about breast cancer.
The 2017 race paid for 203 screening mammograms, 22 diagnostic mammograms, nine ultrasounds, one surgical evaluation and lab work for those who couldn’t have otherwise afforded it.
“That was just one year’s donations,” Morris said.
Those screenings revealed early breast cancers, Morris said. One of those malignancies was detected by the first mammogram the patient ever had.
The audit for the 2018 grants will be done in November, Morris said.
The 2019 grantees will be Access Family Health Services, which has clinics in Smithville, Tupelo, Nettleton, Houlka and Tremont; North Mississippi Medical Center Breast Care Center in Tupelo; NMMC-Iuka; NMMC-West Point; Lift Inc. in Tupelo; Good Samaritan Free Clinic in Columbus; Baptist Memorial Health Care Foundation; and Magnolia Regional in Corinth.
Most of the funds are used to cover the costs of screening and diagnostic tests for breast cancer.
Magnolia Regional has used its grant to help cover an annual breast cancer awareness lunch and education efforts.
For 2019 and beyond, Hope Continues volunteers are committed to making sure these resources are robustly funded.
“We want to continue to grow the event every year,” Morris said.