It was a big venue change for Michigan’s largest breast cancer fundraiser, moving from Comerica Park to Chene Park’s riverfront location for this year’s event on Saturday.

The 23rd Annual Komen Detroit Race For The Cure made the switch in anticipation of construction on the M-1 light rail project. Kathy Gordon, a five-year breast cancer survivor, and a five-year race veteran, admitted that she was a little nervous about the change in venue.

“I was a little hesitant, but it worked out perfect,” Gordon said. “It was much smoother than I thought — that was a nice run and it actually felt shorter to me.”

Gordon said that the race was an important part of her recovery process.

“I like to come too because one of the biggest things for me when I first found out that I had it was I met a survivor,” Gordon said. “That was extremely helpful and it changed my whole outlook, so I like to come and try to be an inspiration to other people who maybe were recently diagnosed and say, ‘You can beat this’.”

For Heather Shepperly, coming out for her first ever Race for the Cure ended up being much more overwhelming than she thought it would.

“It’s amazing — it’s inspiring and ended up being much more emotional than I expected it to be. It was wonderful,” Shepperly said.

Shepperly was recently diagnosed with breast cancer and she is about halfway through 16 rounds of chemotherapy. Following a challenging finish of the walk on Saturday, she admitted that she did it with the help of her team, “Heather B”.

“Today was a really big deal — as soon as I was diagnosed, my friends put together this team and decided we’re all doing this together,” Shepperly said. “They’ve all been here to support me, so it’s been amazing.”

Shepperly said that she hopes to be finished with her treatment by Christmas and be at next year’s race as a six-month survivor.

“The next time that I do the next race — when I cross that finish line — it’s just going to be more amazing,” Shepperly said.

Many also got a look at what will be Michigan’s first-ever license plate for the cause. State Senator Glenn Anderson sponsored the legislation to create the pink ribbon plate, which will debut later this summer.

“All of us –whether it’s parents, grandparents or maybe a sister — we know someone that’s been affected by this,” Anderson said. “Showing the success stories of how many survivors are out there so that women know that there’s hope and that there’s somebody out there supporting them.”

Proceeds from the plate will help fund the Breast and Cervical Cancer Control Program, which provides breast and cervical screening and treatment for under and uninsured patients across Michigan.

The Komen Detroit race has raised more than $25 million for breast cancer research, education and treatment.


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