On Oct. 20, around 16,000 people will crowd Linn Park in downtown Birmingham for the annual Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure, and one of the largest delegations will once again be Team Kate Has Hope.
Team Kate is named after Karen Nomberg, who was an active member of Birmingham’s Jewish community. In August 2003, she was diagnosed with breast cancer. Her husband, Bernard Nomberg, said she “decided to be proactive in fighting the disease” and joined the North Central Alabama Komen affiliate’s board.
In the fall of 2004, “friends and family formed Team Kate for the annual Race for the Cure,” Bernard said. Michelle Bearman-Wolnek has been a team co-captain since the beginning, “to support my very best friend through her fight with breast cancer.” The team quickly became one of the largest teams, and one of the most prolific fundraisers.
In 2006, Team Kate added Hope McInerney’s name to the title, as McInerney had also been diagnosed with breast cancer. “These young women were battling this disease while trying to raise a young family. We all felt pretty helpless and this team has given us something that we can do to make a change in other women's outcomes when they are diagnosed with breast cancer,” Bearman-Wolnek said.
Karen lost her battle with the disease in May 2007. That fall, the team had 240 members and raised over $42,000, the highest totals in the race’s history. Generally, the team has more than 100 participants and raises over $10,000 each year, putting them at the top of both categories in the race.
For McInerney, this year’s race is on the sixth anniversary of her diagnosis — something that happened because of the race. When she signed on for the 2006 race, it prompted her to do a self-exam, leading to the discovery of her cancer.
Ellen Zahariadis, Komen executive director for north-central Alabama, said “This team really embodies the purpose, hope and joy of the Race through their enthusiasm, dedicated fundraising efforts and consistent support of the Race and the work of Susan G. Komen. Their commitment to the Race is real and loving testament to these two remarkable women.”
Each year, the local Komen chapter presents an award named after Karen to someone in the race who best exemplifies Karen’s contributions toward finding a cure, Bernard said.
In 2010, their daughters, Sidney and Emily, received the Youth Inspiration Leadership Award at the race.
Bearman-Wolnek said the team receives a lot of assistance in the quest to be the top Friends and Family team. Total Skin and Beauty Dermatology provides team T-shirts, and the Levite Jewish Community Center provides the team a home base. Embassy Suites donated a weekend stay to the team member who raises the most money.
There is also a lemonade stand for the team’s efforts, organized by Jennifer Nemet. This year, it will be at the Dunbarton sign on Overton Road, from 1 to 4 p.m. on Oct. 14. Children are welcome to volunteer.
Sirote Permutt, the Birmingham law firm where McInerney's husband, Kerry, works, also fields a team for the Komen race, and promotes it through the firm's charitable website, Sirote Supports.
To register for the race, go to komenNCalabama.org or call (205) 263-1700. Registration deadline is Oct. 5, but there is also the “Sleep-In for the Cure” and donations to the team are welcome.
Other Breast Cancer Awareness Month events:
NOLA Goes Pink, all month at area restaurants.
Worship in Pink Shabbat at Temple Beth Shalom in Ft. Walton Beach, Oct. 12 at 7:30 p.m.
Pink Tie Ball to benefit Joy to Life Foundation. Alley Station, Montgomery, Oct. 19 at 6 p.m.
New Orleans Race for the Cure at City Park, Oct. 20 at 9:30 a.m.
Joy to Life Joy Ride for Breast Cancer. University of South Alabama, Mobile. Oct. 20, 8 a.m.
Prayer in Pink Shabbat at Agudath Israel-Etz Ahayem, Montgomery, Oct. 26 at 6:30 p.m.