For Your Health

Friends of Melana 5k

Chad W. Lutz
Odds are you know someone, either personally or indirectly, who has been affected by cancer. While the C-Word is nearly as equivocal of a death sentence as it once was, cancer still takes its toll; on families and communities as well as the individuals afflicted. Some cope with the loss that cancers accrue by commemorating those less fortunate, especially when life, already short, is cut even shorter by the often devastating condition. Families band together and communities pull strength from one another to celebrate the lives of loved ones and to gain strength, pull positives from the situation and raise money and awareness and, moreover, inspire.

In one such community, Garrettsville, Ohio, population 2,300, the loss of a young girl named Melana Matson inspired the peoples of the small Ohio town to put together a commemorative 5k to celebrate her life and to inspire others to take a moment and count their blessings of good health. The inaugural Friends of Melana 5k took place in June 2011, with more than 100 runners participating in the 5,000m and 1-mile fun walk events. Before the race, event directors Jacob Vaughn of Garrettsville and Diana Morris of Mogadore spoke on the importance of remembering people like Melana and ensuring their legacies live on and enrich our lives.
Runners at the start of the Inaugural Friends of Melana 5k June 2011 (Benjamin M. Coll)

The following year, the event drew over 200 runners and featured sizzling top 3 times of 16:22, 16:50, and 17:31. Many of the 200 participants were return runners from the previous year's race, which features a countryside course with both rolling hills and flat straightaways. Awards are given to the top three overall male and female winners as well as prizes to the top three winners in each age group. The first winner of the Friends of Melana 5k received a trophy and a botanical surprise: a potted sunflower representing the official symbol of the Childhood Glioma Cancer Foundation, of which all proceeds from the race go to benefit.

Runners participating in this year's race can expect fast times from the winners, but they'll also enjoy a very special guest appearance from 2012 Olympian Bridget Franek. A native of Hiram, Ohio, Franek ran the 3000m Steeplechase in London last August. Ms. Franek will be on hand to be the official starter of the 2013 Friends of Melana 5k, which should only prove to add to the already exciting event.

To sign up for the Friends of Melana 5k held in Garrettsville on June 30, 2013, visit our For A Better Buckeye page, which provides a direct link to the race as well as hundreds of other athletic events taking place throughout the State of Ohio this June.