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Going the extra mile.

Julie Rockey was only 30 when, after a routine gynecological exam in 2010, she was diagnosed with Stage 2 breast cancer. She had no family history or genetic link to the disease.

“Why and how did I get breast cancer? There was no way to answer that,” said the Lewisburg resident and 10-year Geisinger employee, who, as a strategic program director, helps lead Geisinger’s collaboration with Merck on patient health. “All I could do was move forward.”

During chemotherapy and radiation at Geisinger Medical Center, Ms. Rockey was offered an opportunity to do just that. A local triathlon she was involved with wanted to add a 5K run/walk to benefit breast cancer patients. There was one catch: she would have to organize it. A self-described overachiever, she immediately agreed, despite her demanding schedule of work and cancer treatment.
“I didn’t realize it at the time, but organizing the first Ta-Ta Trot was my therapy,” Ms. Rockey said. “It helped me dig in, get out and meet new people during a difficult, scary time.”

In August of that year, just a week after a partial mastectomy, Ms. Rockey stood on a stage in a park in Sunbury and welcomed 62 runners and walkers to the fledgling event. The following year, the 5K included 10 times as many participants. The 2014 event registered more than 2,700. As the race grew, it was moved to its current venue in Selinsgrove.

In 2014, with five successful races under her belt, Ms. Rockey and the race were honored by the Pennsylvania Breast Cancer Coalition, one of the 5K’s beneficiaries, with the coalition’s Shining Light Award. Around the same time, she learned that she was pregnant for the first time.

After 7 years as president, Ms. Rockey stepped down from organizing the Ta-Ta Trot to spend more time with her son Maverick, now 2, and her husband Clint. The family will walk together in this year’s event. As she comes full circle, from breast cancer patient to survivor and from race organizer to participant, she reflects on the experience: “My joy and triumph have made all of the heartache worthwhile.”

To learn more about the Ta Ta Trot, visit tatatrot.com.
Rockey