The seventh annual fundraiser event for the University of New Mexico Comprehensive Cancer Center is taking place at University Stadium on Sept. 23. All money raised will benefit the Cancer Center and its patients.
Last year the Lobo Cancer Challenge raised $373,500. Those participating this year will either take on a 5K, stair challenge, 25 or 50 mile bike ride or virtually decide which athletic challenge they will do individually. For children ages 1-10, there is a cub pack 1K run or walk.
One fundraising team, the “G.O. Ovary Achievers,” is halfway to meeting their fundraising goal of $30,000, according to the Lobo Cancer Challenge webpage. The team is raising money for women’s cancer research, the cancer survivorship clinic and the patient care fund.
Team captain of the “G.O Ovary Achievers” is Eglis Pereyra who works as a nurse practitioner for the gynecology oncology department. Pereyra comes from a family with a history of cervical and uterine cancer and said she was inspired by Carolyn Muller, Chief of gynecologic oncology, to join the Lobo Cancer Challenge.
New Director and CEO of the Cancer Center, Yolanda Sanchez, said their goal is to have 1,000 participants to help bring awareness to their mission.
“I think it’s a very important event – not only for fundraising and for supporting the Cancer Center and our patients, but also for awareness about preventable cancers. Because of the nature of the event, we have sponsors. The sponsors pay for the event itself, so all the money raised goes to either research or patient care,” Sanchez said.
Donors select from 19 programs to raise funds for, such as patient care assistance, leukemia, lymphoma, myeloma and stem cell transplant, women’s cancer research, gynecological cancers and breast cancer research, Sanchez said.
“I really wanted to be helpful and to be part of a great team. To be able to raise – even if it’s a little bit of money – to help these people that are having a hard time,” Pereyra said. “The team that we work with is incredible.
Muller, a fellow “G.O. Ovary Achiever” member, said she has worked at the Cancer Center for nearly 20 years.
“Our team is very heavily embedded in the Cancer Center and drives a lot of clinical trials and clinical research that sometimes leads to practice changing treatments or strategies in cancer care for gynecology oncology patients,” Muller said.
Medical students, residents and fellows in the Lobo community work together with the gynecology oncology department to learn and train in the comprehensive care that UNM provides, Muller said.
The UNM Cancer Center is the only NCI designated center in New Mexico. National Cancer Insitute designation puts the UNM Cancer Center on the same scale as MD Anderson and Memorial Sloan Kettering — the top cancer treatment centers located in Texas and New York, Muller said.
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The “G.O. Ovary Achievers” have pulled together to promote their fundraising team through social media and t-shirt sales. Trish Mather – Unit Administrator of the Gynecologic Oncologic division and team member – set up a partnership with Chipotle on Saturday, Sept. 9.
“I’ve been with Dr. Muller since 2004,” Mather said. “My mom is a cancer survivor, thanks to this lady (Muller). So it means a lot to be able to do this. We have built a strong team and we’re going for it.”
The “G.O. Ovary Achievers” will all be participating in the 5K walk, Sanchez said. The last day to register for the Lobo Cancer Challenge event is on Sept. 8.
“If you raise the money to get one of these research studies off the ground, then you were part of the cure. You were a part of that discovery. You are a part of our team,” Sanchez said.
Sydney Walker is a freelance reporter at the Daily Lobo. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @squidneywrites.
Sydney Walker is a freelance reporter at the Daily Lobo. She can be reached on Twitter @squidneywrites.