By Jan Dunbar
On Saturday, March 2, 2014 the 2nd Annual Run/Walk for Bill raised $10,000 for pancreatic cancer research! This was our 2nd year honoring the memory of Bill Dunbar, a husband & father, friend, an avid runner, and member of the Manhattan Beach community for 14 years. Family, friends and community came out to the Manhattan Beach Pier to enjoy a 5k overlooking the ocean along the beach side path. It was a beautiful morning, fantastic turnout, an amazing day to raise awareness.
My husband Bill enjoyed running and was happily recruited many years ago to join an early morning exercise group. He bonded with his fellow runners and formed many great friendships. When he was diagnosed with cancer in July 2012, running became a thing of the past. But the many stories of triumphs over injuries, aging and each other lived on.
Bill’s journey with cancer was a short one. After many rounds of chemo, transfusions, and countless medications he passed away from pancreatic cancer at home in February 2013. Despite doing all I could to provide love, support, and comfort, there was the overwhelming feeling of helplessness in the face of a deadly disease.
Shortly after Bill passed, a dear friend and fellow runner organized the first run/walk in his honor. Hundreds of loving friends came out to pay their respects. It was very heartwarming, and a fitting tribute to a wonderful man. When Ross asked to perpetuate the event this March, I was thrilled. It occurred to me that I may have found a way to combat the helplessness.
I had been spinning a lot and met Jon Hirshberg in class. I read about his story and the history of the Foundation. I knew immediately that supporting the Hirshberg Foundation would be our way of helping others fight cancer. The turnout at this year’s event showed that many others felt as strongly about supporting efforts to combat cancer while honoring those who have passed. For me and my kids, this event has turned our personal tragedy into a cause for good.
And what a great day it was!!! Friends and supporters came out of the woodwork for a beautiful stroll on The Strand. We shared hugs and stories; we laughed and we cried. And it all felt right. I hope to continue this tradition for years to come, to raise awareness and funds to make death from pancreatic cancer a thing of the past.