TUPELO • Adam Morris no longer has a pink mohawk, but he was publicly recognized Thursday as a committed advocate for breast cancer screening.
The founder of the Hope Continues 5K was honored with the 2019 Breast Cancer Advocate Award by NMMC Cancer Care on Thursday. Because of funds raised through Hope Continues, women who couldn’t otherwise afford annual screening mammograms have access and breast cancers have been found at early stages, said Tupelo oncologist Dr. Charles Montgomery as he presented the award to Morris.
“He’s done a lot for our community,” Montgomery said.
Morris, with his pink mohawk and colorful gear, was a fixture at the annual Komen North Mississippi Race for the Cure.
“I made a lot of friends through the years doing those crazy outfits,” and has been deeply moved by their breast cancer stories, Morris said. “That’s why I do it.”
When the local Komen affiliate disbanded in July 2017, he didn’t want to see the region lose the connection and the funding for screening and education programs.
“There was no way we could let this pass,” Morris said. “There are so many people who can’t afford a mammogram.”
In 2017, with less than four months to prepare, Hope Continues volunteers put together a new event to keep breast cancer front and center in Tupelo on the last Saturday of October.
In its first three years, the Hope Continues 5K has raised about $150,000 and brought thousands of runners and walkers to Fairpark in downtown.
Earlier this year, Morris cut his signature mohawk, but he donned a vivid pink suit and pink rain boots for race day.
The idea for the advocate award was sparked by oncologist Montgomery, who is an avid coin collector. He spotted the special commemorative breast cancer coins from the U.S. Mint in a catalog. The NMMC Cancer Care team took the idea and the coins and turned them into a chance to recognize those who have worked so hard to help breast cancer patients. In 2018, NMMC Cancer Care awarded the first Breast Cancer Advocate Award to Tara Kilgore.
“There’s a lot of people who give a lot of time and no one knows,” Montgomery said. “In recognizing one, you’re recognizing them all.”
Hope Continues, which is a special project of the CREATE Foundation, is in the process of gathering the final 2019 donations. Pending approval by the Hope Continues board, Morris anticipates funds will go out in early December to eight nonprofit organizations to provide breast cancer screening for the medically uninsured and promote awareness. He’s already making plans for 2020 and beyond.
“We’re going to keep it going,” Morris said.