Looking to participate in a run/walk for a great cause this summer? Then look no further than the Live.Laugh.LoveYourLungs. 5k Run / 1-Mile Walk! This event is taking place on Sunday, June 2 at Delaware Park and being hosted by Erica Burzynski and Holly Saari of Foundation 228. Proceeds will benefit lung cancer research initiatives at Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center.
Our team at Team Roswell was able to talk to both Erica and Holly about the inspiration behind this event and what participants can expect. Here is what they had to say.
Q: What is the inspiration behind this event?
E: Live.Laugh.LoveYourLungs. 5k Run / 1-Mile Walk this June is the first-ever event for Foundation 228 and we are very excited to have it in our hometown of Buffalo, New York! Time, talent and local businesses will be tapped to help execute the event, keeping Buffalo at the epicenter of everything we do – where we have nothing but #BuffaLove. We are actively inquiring and pursuing opportunities to help fund in Buffalo and Western New York (and beyond!) that are focused on dedicated lung cancer research.
It is also a day we will forever celebrate our mother’s life, this year being particularly special as it’s our first full year without her. Her love for any city and nature, and taking walks to explore, make Delaware Park Rose Garden and Hoyt Lake a destination fitting for such an event!
How has cancer affected you?
E: I’ve known cancer all my life. I’ve seen family members and friends be diagnosed and live, or lose, but I never understood what it really felt like to lose someone (my mom) and something (our bond) I loved so much until June 2, 2018. It’s absolutely heartbreaking to say goodbye to a parent – someone who loves you unconditionally and is there for all the ups and downs in life. All your firsts you take together, and then as an adult child you are left with a new set of ‘firsts” without the one person you want to share them all with and it’s maddening. I can’t even articulate in words how painful it is to say good bye, but what’s even harder is having to watch someone you love slip away day after day in front of your eyes. And in my mom’s case, as it was lung cancer, it literally took her breath away and I can still hear her whisper ‘Erica Help Me,’ as she struggled to breathe and fear darted out of her eyes and into mine, crushing my heart. I was helpless – not able to offer any comfort constantly pleading and begging doctors for more pain medication with no hope in sight for a medication that might work.
H: Our family is no stranger to cancer. We’ve had family members and friends suffer from cancer, but when you watch the woman who brought you into this world, struggling to live her life, struggling to breathe, struggling to eat, it becomes a mission to find a cure, to make people aware and be an advocate for them. I hope that one day cancer is something we talk about only in textbooks.
Q: Can you describe your mother? What’s your favorite memory of her?
E: In my eyes, my mom is the epitome of grace, beauty (inside and out), class and warrior-like strength. She was our cheerleader and confidant, but always my mother first and then my friend, which I can appreciate so much more as an adult. She always put my needs before her own, as mothers often do, and taught me how to be humble and proud of my Polish heritage. She sacrificed in order to give me/us our best life. My favorite memory of her would have to be the night before Thanksgiving. We would come home from being out and she would be joyfully baking the pies for Thanksgiving and then Thanksgiving mornings getting the bird in the oven and the rest of us staying out of her way as she finished dinner! We loved to shop – often finding the best deals – and my favorite memory was the moment I put on my senior prom dress at Lord & Taylor – her smile was priceless.
H: My mom was a smart, beautiful, independent, supportive person in all aspects of our lives. She loved her family and her grandchildren with everything she had to give. She’d chat for hours with my children while they went about life and this was before FaceTime; our mom just wanted us to be happy. Don’t get me wrong, we certainly had our disagreements, but we always loved each other enough (like the I Wish You Enough poem by Bob Perks)! I have so many memories of our mom, but my favorite memories include coming home to Buffalo with my boys from California during the summer. They were still little and we’d spend a couple of weeks at my parents. They’d fish, and color and just be around my mom and dad. My mom was in her element, just loving on my boys. I’m so lucky to have those memories to treasure forever. I hope it made up for us living so far away most of the year. It’s just a bit of a different world, that you don’t fully understand until you’re in the midst of it. She just loved her grandsons.
Why did you decide to do a 5k?
H: For the last several years I’ve found comfort in running, it clears my mind and also keeps me healthy. When we found out that our mom had cancer, I ran many long miles both on a treadmill and trails as my therapy to help me cope with the road ahead. I was drawn to Delaware Park and Hoyt Lake during my visits to Buffalo and especially during our mother’s illness. It just felt like a natural event to keep our mother’s spirit alive, while bringing people together to enjoy the lake and the beauty and celebrate our mom.
E: I love to run, it keeps you moving and makes you feel alive! It pushes your limits! 5ks and walks help build community, is exercise/healthy, and helps you build your lung capacity.
What are you most looking forward to?
E: Raising our first one million dollars and contributing to the cure for lung cancer. It would be brilliant if the research we are able to fund helps find a cure for all cancers!
H: I’m looking forward to creating awareness, and funding research so that more families do not have to relive the same horrors that we experienced while our mom fought for her life. I want white/pearls to be just as important as pink. I’m looking forward to keeping our mother’s spirit alive through different events to raise money for lung cancer research and awareness. We’ve only just begun, I know there are so many opportunities just waiting for us, and I can’t wait to just make it all happen with my sister and our families/friends.
Participants can choose to participate in the 5k run, one mile walk, or a virtual run on Sunday, June 2. Hotel Henry will generously donate $1 to Foundation 228 for each beverage ordered on race-day with a race bib. Event day parking has been reserved first come, first serve, at the Buffalo History Museum.
Registration is $30 (registration increases to $35 after May 25) – sign up today!