YOUNGSTOWN - For the past 17 years, Dr. Rashid Abdu has dreamed of having a comprehensive breast care center in the Mahoning Valley to help women.
That dream will become a reality on his birthday, Nov. 2, with the opening of the Joanie Abdu Comprehensive Breast Care Center, named in memory of Abdu's wife, who died of breast cancer. The center will be located next to St. Elizabeth Health Center.
To help raise funds for the center, more than 4,000 runners of all ages took to the streets of Youngstown Sunday morning, generating more than $180,000 to help fund a portion of the $8 million center, a jump of about $55,000 over last year's event.
More than 4,000 runners turned out for the fund-raising walkathon and race.
Participants were taking part in the second annual Panerathon, billed as one of the area's largest fundraising events. Athletes had a choice of a 10K run or walk, or a 2-mile run or walk, all leaving from the Covelli Centre, decorated with bright pink balloons and banners.
Liz Follet, race coordinator, said the number of participants is up from last year and 100 percent of the proceeds will benefit the center.
''With all the fun and success we had at last year's event so many people wanted to come back. We had people last year signing up that day to come back this year. It was a wonderful family event,'' Follet said.
Participants take part in the 2-mile walk through downtown Youngstown on Sunday as part of the second annual Panerathon event hosted by Panera Bread. More than 4,000 people took part in the 10K and a 2-mile run and walk.
Photo by Bob Coupland
James Schultis, president of the HMHP Development Foundation, said the $8 million renovation and remodeling project which has been underway will create a 15,000 square foot building. He said only about $100,000 is still needed for the costs.
Humility of Mary Health Partners Foundation has been raising funds for the comprehensive center with HMHP committing $3 million to the project.
He said the center will have the latest state-of-the-art technology which will be made accessible to women who need the services.
2011 Panerathon winners
2 Mile Race
1. Andy Morgan, 22, Peninisula, 10:08.7
2. Eric Rupe, 19, Cortland, 10:18.7
3. Brandon Pasvanis, 19, Youngstown, 10:33.2
1. (15th overall) Alanna Shamrock, 16, Cortland, 13:01.7
2. (16) Carli Sebest, 14, Poland, 13:12.7
3. (19) Emily Rast, 16, Salem, 13:37.0
1. Ryan Kienzle, 24, Canton, 30:47.4
2. Bryan Morseman, 25, Addison, NY, 31:40.8
3. Fred Kieser, 40, Cleveland, 32:06.9
4. Craig Rupe, 25, Cortland, 32:31.0
5. Scott Denham, 22, Oregon, 33:35.1
1. (12 overall) Becki Michael, 28, Akron, 36:09.5
2. (19) Melissa Converse, 34, Dublin, 38:19.7
3. (25) Rochelle Morgan, 23, Peninisula, 39:35.6
4. (26) Jen Theissen, 28, Kent, 39:41.0
5. (30) Tynae Wilson, 21, Naples, Fla., 40:20.9
Schultis said statistics indicate one out of eight women will have deal with breast cancer in her lifetime. He said the mortality rate for deaths from breast cancer in the Mahoning Valley is very high.
''There is a need for this center. There has been such an outpouring of support,'' he said.
Abdu said the center will help the breast cancer survivors and those who may be afflicted with the disease for generations to come.
Sam Covelli, owner / operator of Covelli Enterprises, said he continues to be amazed how the community rallies behind the cause each year.
''It is truly an honor to be able to put on an event of this magnitude and to be a part of bringing about better breast care services to people of the Valley,'' Covelli said.
A 10-member team organized by Michelle and John Perdue, owners of McDonalds from Howland gathered for the walk.
Michelle said they know breast cancer survivors and wanted to take part in an event that raises money that stays in the area to help local people and brings awareness.
Mary Pipino of Howland said she was marking her first time participating.
''This is a great community builder that promotes a good cause of bringing awareness to breast cancer awareness,'' Pipino said.
Groups from Humility of Mary Health Partners also were among the walkers.
Sisters Mildred Ely, Barbara Noble, Barbara Hermann, and Jennie Skerk were among the nuns who decided to walk in support of the important cause.
''There are many from Humility of Mary taking part today. We all believe in doing what we can to help this important cause,'' Ely said.