Pair of Races to Help Fight Cancer, Childhood Obesity

Wheeling will host two road races this fall each with its own special cause – one to raise awareness of ovarian cancer and the other to get families off the couch and moving.

To help inform people about the signs of ovarian cancer and raise money for the National Ovarian Cancer Coalition, the Marti Wood Stephan Ovarian Cancer Awareness 5K is planned for 9 a.m. Sept. 21 at Bridge Street Middle School in Wheeling.

And to get children and families on the road to healthy, active lifestyles, the End Childhood Obesity 5K Run/Walk, also known as ECHO, is slated for 9 a.m. Oct. 26 at St. Michael’s School, 1221 National Road, Wheeling.

The Wheeling Satellite of the National Ovarian Cancer Coalition is organizing the Marti 5K event, named after Wheeling resident Denny Stephan’s late wife, Martha, who died from the disease Sept. 26, 2011, at 69 years old. Stephan, who serves as race director, is helping spread awareness of the disease’s symptoms with help from the coalition. The money raised during the fundraiser is used to create pamphlets and other materials to educate people about ovarian cancer. For more information, call Stephan at 304-281-8550.

Jana Shubat, who serves as the Marti 5K assistant director and also director of the ECHO race, was friends with Martha Wood Stephan, who was an avid runner. She noted Martha attended the very first Marti 5K and died a week later.

”Marti was a very loved person. She hung on to be there. … She was extremely ill,” Shubat said. ”It’s more than just a race to us, it’s like having Marti there.”

Because there is no early detection test, Stephan said it is important for women to pay attention to changes in their body. If the following signs and symptoms persist for more than two weeks, a woman should see her gynecologist: bloating; pelvic or abdominal pain; trouble eating or feeling full quickly; feeling the need to urinate urgently or often; fatigue; upset stomach or heartburn; back pain; pain during sex; and constipation or menstrual changes.

Shubat said the goal of the ECHO race is to educate parents and children about fun ways to get active and develop healthier eating habits.

In addition to the 5K, there also will be a free 1/2-mile Family Fun Run and a free 100-yard dash Kids Run. Race proceeds benefit West Virginia Schools on the Move, a program that annually grants money to local schools to help promote physical activity.

For more information, call Shubat at 304-639-5738.