Volunteers united for a cure
Finding a cure now...so our daughters don't have to.
“Finding a cure now…so our daughters don’t have to” was the slogan of the annual Selinsgrove Ta-Ta Trot, a 5K run and walk which marked its eighth anniversary on July 8. For Lisa Pfleegor, a middle-school guidance counselor and president of the event, the slogan is particularly fitting. A breast cancer survivor, she and her daughter Claire, 14, have been Ta-Ta Trot volunteers for years.
“The Ta-Ta Trot is about figuring out how to cure breast cancer so others won’t have to go through it,” Ms. Pfleegor said. “The race is professionally timed, and we do get serious runners, but most people are here to support breast cancer survivors and research.
Ms. Pfleegor recently took over as president for the race, a 501(c)(3) organization, from founder and Geisinger employee Julie Rockey, overseeing an all-volunteer committee of 12. The group works nearly year-round, securing use permits and financing, ensuring police coverage, promoting the event and persuading local businesses to provide financing and prizes. Their work has paid off — in the last 7 years, the Ta-Ta Trot has donated more than $264,000 to 3 beneficiaries: the Pennsylvania Breast Cancer Coalition, Geisinger’s Marie Lamey Fund and Evangelical Community Hospital’s Thyra M. Humphreys Center for Breast Health.
To manage thousands of runners and walkers, the committee relies on countless community volunteers, many of whom work at Geisinger.
“Geisinger has been a huge supporter of the race from the beginning, through monetary donations, prizes and encouraging employees to get involved,” said Ms. Pfleegor.
One of those employees is Joseph DeSantis, MD, a Geisinger plastic surgeon, who for five years has led a team from the Department of Plastic Surgery. The team, called the Breast Builders, has grown from 8 runners and walkers to more than 20. The Breast Builders are known for their award-winning T-shirts, designed by Dr. DeSantis and nurse Chrystal Keister.
“Many patients come to our practice for reconstructive breast surgery, and we see them go through a lot,” Dr. DeSantis said. “The team is our way of letting them know we care about them, and about finding a cure.”