Miles for Melanoma 5K Run/Walk
Ten years after being diagnosed at the age of 25, Hillary Fogelson continues to spread awareness about melanoma after teaming up with the Melanoma Research Foundation through her online resource that launched in August 2011, Pale Girl SPEAKS.
"I always say, if you have skin, you're at risk for skin cancer," said Fogelson.
Saturday's Miles for Melanoma 5K Run/Walk was sponsored by Pale Girl SPEAKS and Universal Studios. A majority of the proceeds from the 2,200 participants who contributed to the fundraising effort went to the Melanoma Research Foundation.
According to the MRF, melanoma is the deadliest form of skin cancer and the leading cancer for women in their 20s.
Fogelson started Pale Girl SPEAKS as a way to help spread awareness of the dangers of melanoma as well as to encourage young people to have their skin checked.
News of the event was able to reach many from around the state who were willing to travel to participate and support friends, family or anyone who has been affected by melanoma.
A cheer team from Providence High School in Burbank was in attendance to encourage runners at the finish line. Cheer coach Cathy Main decided to participate in the event with her team after a 2003 graduate of the school, Shannon Hayes, passed away four years after her graduation.
"One of the alumni told us about the race," said Main. "That's one of the reasons why we wanted to do this. [Shannon] was such a great girl. The school even held a fundraiser for her."
After losing her mother to skin cancer last October, Melissa Nickelson was specifically searching for a run to help support the cause. She and a small group of friends drove from Orange County to participate and support Nickelson.
"It means a lot, having it hit so close," said Nickelson. "It's nice to know that people are putting support for this cause. I've also changed my lifestyle after my mom. I'm a little paranoid now, but it makes me want to spread the word that it can happen to anyone. It can happen really fast."
Participants ran by scenes such as the village of Whoville, Amityville Island from "Jaws," the "War of the Worlds" plane crash and Spartacus Square in the Universal backlot.
Vendors were present at the event, with some offering free skin care samples, skin checks, a Style Network “Style Experience” tent with tips on how to prevent melanoma as well as Joe's Shades beach umbrella chairs.
Tamatha Von Sherr, who participated in the race with her family, heard about the event and immediately signed up. Both Von Sherr's father and grandfather had melanoma.
"My dad had a dot on his ear and they decided to do a biopsy," said Von Sherr. "He had his entire ear reconstructed after the surgery."
Von Sherr's daughter, 10-year-old Akemi, also had a melanoma scare.
"I had a mole on my arm that wasn't melanoma," she said. "But it could have been, so they freezed it and cut it off. It didn't hurt. It was OK."
"We've always been self-conscious about [being in the sun]," said Von Sherr. "My girls are runners, and and we take care of ourselves so we make sure they're not going to get any form of skin cancer."
Others like Terrance Walker ran to show support for the cause.
"I do a lot of events like this," he said. "I love the fact that it's charitable."
"This is my 18th race," said Walker. "I usually do research to try and find what each event is about. This event enlightened me about melanoma."
With a time of 17:16, Walker finished first.
Fogelson published a book in October 2012 called "Pale Girl SPEAKS: A Year Undercover," which made the Los Angeles Times bestseller list for memoirs.
"I was able to reach a really broad audience of people who maybe weren't looking for sun safety advice, but who learned that this information applies to them," said Fogelson of her organization's efforts to reach her audience. "It applies to everyone."
A new find Fogelson made and now recommends to people who are looking for effective ways to protect themselves under the sun is powdered sunscreen, which has a brush-tip application. She is also working on an illustrated childrens' book to better help kids understand melanoma.