By Leah Fallon
On any given weekend in Loudoun County, those looking for a family-friendly 5K won’t have to look far. As fundraiser races have grown in popularity over the years, the Step Sisters Ribbon Run for breast cancer has grown with it. The Ashburn-based nonprofit Step Sisters celebrates its 10th annual Ribbon Run in Brambleton Saturday, April 22.
The Step Sisters help women and families fighting breast cancer by connecting them to area vendors who provide things like transportation, child care and house cleaning. They also work with area hospitals including Inova Loudoun, Fair Oaks, Fairfax, Alexandria and Reston Hospital Center.
When Step Sister’s founders Ashley Campolattaro and Angela Fuentes hosted the first Ribbon Run, they had less than 100 participants. No frills; just bare bones. This year, they expect more than 1,200 runners and walkers, with 40 teams already registered. Each will be running and walking for women and families who have been impacted by breast cancer.
“While this event benefits the breast cancer cause through the Step Sisters organization, it’s truly a community event since nearly everyone has been touched by the disease in some way,” Campolattaro said.
One of the registered teams is Melanie’s Army. Melanie Small, a 33-year-old Brambleton resident, was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer in 2013. Following her diagnosis, her twin sister formed a team of 70-100 runners and walkers to participate in the Susan G. Komen race in Washington, DC. They found the logistics of getting to that race hectic, so they were thrilled when they found the Ribbon Run practically in their neighborhood.
“The great atmosphere and the sense of community is what draws us to it,” said Small, now participating in her second Ribbon Run. She also likes that the money she raises stays local, helping people in her community.
Her mother-in-law, Karen Small of Fairfax, is looking forward to this year’s Ribbon Run. She admires the battle many of the women are fighting. “When you see these women out there, some with no hair, it makes you realize that you can really take life for granted.”
The Step Sisters is there to support the women in their fight. The volunteers work to take care of all the things most people take for granted everyday—a clean house, a trip to the grocery store or a warm dinner. The Ribbon Run raised $30,000 last year to do just that, and organizers hope to exceed that amount this year.
This year’s event features a grab-and-go breakfast for runners and walkers, provided by Blue Ridge Grill. Participants can also find post-race fuel, free seated massages and prizes for the top fundraiser. All attendees will have access to Sharon’s Showcase, an expo designed to connect the breast cancer community with resources in the area. The event showcases Loudoun Breast Health Network, Life with Cancer and Fairfax Breast Health.
The 5K begins at 8 a.m., with the half-mile kid’s fun run following at 9 a.m.
To register to run or walk, volunteer or fundraise, go to stepsistersribbonrun.com.