PUBLISHED: 9:04 PM on Wednesday, February 16, 2005
Valley Rotary supports local cancer patients
The Juneau Glacier Valley Rotary Club (GVR) today donated nearly $17,000.00 to Southeast Alaska's preeminent cancer patient support groups. Cancer Connection accepted a check for $12,723.00 and Team Survivor Perseverance received $4,000.00, all proceeds from GVR's 13th Annual "Beat The Odds" event, an all women's run in the race against breast cancer.

In presenting the awards at the club's weekly meeting, GVR President Tim McLeod focused on Rotary International's mission. "The Rotary motto is 'Service Above Self'," McLeod said, "and thousands of clubs like ours all over the world put that into practice every day. Globally, the needs are enormous, and Glacier Valley Rotary has long been involved in statewide, nationwide, and international service efforts. But we especially enjoy local projects which directly benefit our neighbors right here in Southeast."

Cancer Connection ( is a non-profit, tax-exempt umbrella organization for cancer patient support programs assisting cancer patients with everything from travel for treatment and managing home life during recovery to counseling and education. Well-known swim coach Mike Miller started the group as the Southeast Alaska Cancer Wellness Foundation in 1996 to better coordinate the often scattered or poorly publicized services available to cancer patients, and it has grown steadily since.

"Cancer Connection works constantly," President Ruth Johnson said, "responding to the needs of local cancer patients, helping friends and families provide maximum effective support to those patients, and teaching people how to minimize their chances of contracting the disease." Johnson noted two upcoming Cancer Connection-sponsored events, a Women's Cancer Retreat the last weekend in February, and a Men's Health Forum April 6, 2005.

Team Survivor Perseverance ( acts on a significant body of research demonstrating the value of regular exercise to cancer patients' physical and mental health, including improving fitness and strength, counteracting fatigue and treatment side effects, and increasing patients' feelings of confidence and control. The group provides ongoing support through a wide range of exercise and wellness programs, including weekly yoga classes, walking and running clubs, and customized programs designed to help individuals set and reach personal fitness goals.

"Team Survivor Perseverance focuses on each patient's goal of staying fit throughout the year," Director Nicki Germain said. "We provide everything from low-impact, "entry level" fitness programs for beginners to strenuous exercise schedules, even as far as participating in the annual Skagway-to-Whitehorse Klondike Road Relay. Last year we fielded teams of Klondike runners and walkers including both survivors and supporters."

The Cancer Connection check, emblazoned with a huge running shoe, vividly recalled the source of the funds, GVR's annual "Beat The Odds" race. The event will always remain a GVR project, but Cancer Connection will take over the bulk of coordinating and managing Beat The Odds in 2006. "This is a natural progression for an annual event that has now grown well beyond our expectations," race committee chair, original race organizer, and GVR Past President George Elgee said. "With 587 women racing this year, we raised a record $16,723.00. We're enormously grateful for the response of the community to our annual race. With Cancer Connection's help, we'll continue to grow this event so we can offer even more direct services to people in Southeast Alaska."

At the presentation ceremony, GVR President McLeod again thanked the 2004 Beat The Odds major sponsors, including major sponsors Alaska Urological Associates, Bartlett Regional Hospital, Baxter Bruce Sullivan, P.C., Capital Chevrolet, Diagnostic Radiology Consultants, Elgee Rehfeld Mertz, CPAs, Holt Chiropractic Clinic, Inlandboatmen's Union of the Pacific - Alaska, Medi-Spa, Mendenhall Auto Center, Christine Moleski, DMD, Southeast Medical Clinic, Nell Ann Wagoner, MD, Valley Medical Care, and Wells Fargo Bank. In-kind support and prize donors included Alaska Airlines, Capital City Weekly, Elgee, Rehfeld & Mertz, GCI, Juneau Empire, Juneau Glacier Valley Rotary, KINY/KSUP, KTOO-FM & TV, Medi-Spa, Super Bear, and Wings of Alaska.

Over the years, Beat The Odds has generated almost $ 89,000.00, all donated to Southeast Alaska cancer patient support groups and programs. The 14th annual Beat the Odds race is tentatively scheduled for Saturday, September 3, 2005.