TOWSON – Wearing a pink silk tie over a light rose dress shirt and looking younger than his twenty-five years, Randy James spoke to the crowd gathered near the fountain in Courts Plaza here about how his mother’s battle with cancer had shaped him.
“Her genuine heart inspired me to be the person I am today,” said James, speaking of his mother’s generosity and perseverance.
A few minutes later, James and a collection of pink-frocked women who joined him on the steps threw bright fuchsia koosh balls into the still water of the fountain.
The fountain jumped to life, spurting water high into the deep blue sky of a perfect October day. The water, too, was pink, marking the beginning of Breast Cancer Awareness month.
For Randy James and the members of the “James Gang,” one of the key features of the month has been the Race for the Cure, a five kilometer walk or run in Baltimore to raise money to find a cure for breast cancer.
This year, the Race for the Cure will be run for the first time without Randy’s mother Kathy.
Kathy James began participating in the Race for the Cure sponsored by the Susan G. Komen foundation after she was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2001.
She organized a group of friends and family to join in the race and the team officially adopted the title the “James Gang” two years ago. In 2005, the group raised over $10,000 for the Komen foundation.
Last Thanksgiving, Kathy James lost her nearly five year battle with breast cancer at the age of 53.
Even though Kathy was too ill to participate in the 2005 Race for the Cure, she still came out and showed her support by watching the runners from the sidelines, covered in a pink blanket, said her sister Dolores Coffey.
“Kathy being so ill, [the Race for the Cure] was something we could do to help,” said Coffey.
“Last year was the first year that it really hit home,” said Kathy’s son Randy, who has participated in the last three races. “The number of people that walked and contributed – I know it meant a lot to my mother.”
In her absence, the team will continue.
The group had 55 members signed up to participate in this year’s race held in Baltimore on October 21. Katie Coffey, Kathy James’ niece, said that they hope to reach 100 members. They were recruiting during the event Tuesday from a small kiosk with a large color photo of Kathy. Passersby could either sign up to be a member of the James Gang or simply donate money.
Race for the Cure “is such a representation of who Kathy was and to carry on her legacy in a very small way,” said Katie Coffey, Kathy’s niece.
Other kiosks with information about the importance of early detection and treatment were set up around the newly pink fountain.
In 2005, an estimated 270,000 new cases of breast cancer were diagnosed in the United States according to the American Cancer Society and 40,000 deaths were attributed to the disease.
One in eight women will be diagnosed with some form of breast cancer during her lifetime, according to the National Cancer Institute. But new survival statistics are encouraging. While the number of new breast cancer cases has been on the rise, the number of deaths related to the illness has been decreasing.