Mike Smiley: My Race for the Cure “Why”

Our relationship with Komen Charlotte, our “why,” began in 2006 and it was very personal: my wife, Shari Lynn was diagnosed with Stage II breast cancer the prior summer and was finishing her active treatment.  Our family and friends wanted to do something, so we suggested that we would participate in Komen Charlotte’s Race for the Cure, set up a team, and raise money for the Affiliate and for research.  We didn’t have any expectations, but we had over 50 donors and raised over $12,000 our first year.

I carried a list of all our donors and, during the walk, reflected on each of them, their generosity, and their friendship while taking in all the walkers, survivors, and teams surrounding us along the way.  It was a moving way to spend the 3.1 miles.  As Shari Lynn and I crossed the finish line, and her name was announced, it was quite symbolic as we thought “we’ve made it,” as she was in recovery from her surgery, chemo, and radiation.  The finish line was a new beginning for us.

We walked to the Survivor Ceremony where the balloon release was to occur (since replaced with flags).  Shari Lynn received her one balloon as this was her first year as a survivor.  We looked around and saw women and a few men with 2, 5, 10, 20, and more balloons, representing their many years of survivorship.  It was encouraging and gave us hope.  “We have many years of good health and happiness to look forward to.”  As the balloons were released and joined each other in the sky, we realized, we are part of this Community and we are in this together.

Team Smiley has been participating in Komen Charlotte’s Race for the Cure ever since.  Our family and friends ask every year, “Are you raising money?  Be sure and let us know when to give!”  We are so profoundly grateful to our donors for their gifts to Komen Charlotte.  We are thankful for all that Komen Charlotte does in our community, for the research they fund, and the support they provide those fighting this disease.  It’s our privilege and pleasure to walk and raise money and one day, we look forward to celebrating the cures that are on the way.


Register for Race for the Cure on October 5, 2019: http://bit.ly/CLTRace2019