St. Augustine runners Pink Up The Pace in fight against breast cancer

One year to the day after America’s oldest city coined the hashtag #StAugustineStrong the togetherness of the community was once again on display.

 

More than 2,300 runners and hundreds of volunteers, supporters and survivors filled downtown St. Augustine Saturday morning for the Pink Up The Pace 5K. The ninth annual race raised money for families in St. Augustine and St. Johns County who do not have health insurance and need help fund imaging services to detect breast cancer.

“After everything our town has gone through, two hurricanes in less than a year, and people struggling with issues of their home and finances, it was amazing to see the community come and celebrate the cause,” Pink Up The Pace co-founder Chindy Chaconas said.

Chaconas never thought the event would blossom to where it is now: a two-day event with a Friday evening expo and Saturday morning race. The idea to hold a fundraiser came to her in 2009 shortly after she and her mother were diagnosed with breast cancer.

Chaconas, as well as co-founder Amy Kaelin, drafted a small armada of volunteers and partnered with local businesses to ensure that all the proceeds from the race are reinvested in St. Augustine and St. Johns County.

The U.S. Census Bureau found 10.1 percent of all St. Johns County residents under 65 did not have health insurance in 2015, the most recent year information was available. While that percentage is lower than any county in Northeast Florida, prices can be daunting even for those who have insurance.

Chaconas estimates more than $40,000 was raised to assist local families.

The runners who completed the race featured children as young as 4 as well as five women over 80. Kellianne Dishmon was one of more than 100 survivors who jogged through the historic district Saturday.

Dishmon was diagnosed with Stage 3 breast cancer in the summer of 2002 when she was 26 weeks pregnant with her daughter. Kaelene Dishmon was born in October and Dishmon began treatment the next month.

“At the time I had a 2-year-old, a 1-year-old and a newborn,” Dishmon said on Friday night. “It was crazy.”

Now, all her children are in high school. Kaelene is a freshman volleyball player at St. Joseph, while oldest son Michael is a senior and middle child Scott, 16, is a junior. The Academy’s devotion to Pink Up The Pace is how Dishmon got involved.

On Tuesday night, St. Joseph honored Dishman, Chaconas, Kaelin and a half dozen other survivors before a match against Palatka.

Dishmon has been cancer-free for six years and credits her faith, family and her village for helping her through the ordeal.

That intimate relationship with the valleys and peaks of the fight are why Dishmon has remained involved in breast cancer organizations since her family moved to St. Johns County from Newark, Delaware, in 2005. She has run in The Donna Half Marathon in each of the last 10 years and finished Saturday’s 5K with a time of 61 minutes 30 seconds.

“You have to be your own advocate,” Dishmon said. “You have to know your own body and never lose your faith. Mine was advanced through my whole body. I didn’t think I would see (my children) grow up. Now, I’m watching them all.”

St. Joseph was not the only athletic program to volunteer and raise money for Pink Up The Pace. Flagler’s women’s basketball team was on hand, as was St. Augustine’s girls soccer team. There were singers stationed on St. George Street, vendors and much more.

Dylan Glass, a 25-year-old St. Augustine resident, won the race with a time of 19:01. St. Augustine’s Kristine Williams won the women’s competition with a time of 21:27, which was more than 80 seconds faster than the second woman to cross the finish line.

But Saturday was not about how fast someone could sprint down Castillo Drive. It was about women like 76-year-old Sue Skidmore, who ran and finished in a little over 66 minutes, as well as the community that raises money and awareness in the fight against breast cancer.

“People are getting the message, getting treatment and getting diagnosed early and that’s what allows us to have a big group of people we can represent every year,” Kaelin said. “We look forward to every year having the support of the community and they never fail us. It’s humbling to see that.

“We’re looking forward to our 10-year (anniversary) and try to come up with some exciting ways to celebrate.”

Top 10

Place Name City Time Gender Age

1 Dylan Glass St. Augustine 19:01 M 25

2 Frank Dunn St. Augustine 19:17 M 54

3 Andy Nicol St. Augustine 19:28 M 57

4 Joey Corrado St. Augustine 19:39 M 23

5 Daniel Raymaker St. Augustine 19:44 M 15

6 Bill Phillips St. Augustine 19:58 M 63

7 Luke Nehemias St. Augustine 20:04 M 33

8 Josh Ebert DeLand 20:22 M 43

9 Peyton Godwin St. Augustine 20:50 M 52

10 Scott Lentz St. Augustine 20:56 M 45

 

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