AURORA, Colo. - Rain and cold temperatures couldn’t dampen the dedication of more than 300 runners and their supporters on Saturday at the sixth annual Gift of Life and Breath Race held at the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus.
The race honors the memory of Gary Zollinger. Although never a smoker, Zollinger was diagnosed with stage four lung cancer in 2004 at the University of Colorado Cancer Center on the Anschutz Medical Campus. He underwent chemotherapy, radiation and, ultimately, a rare double lung transplant at the University of Colorado Hospital on May 19, 2006.
Sadly, Zollinger lost his battle with lung cancer Sept. 9, 2007, not long after the first Gift of Life and Breath race, leaving behind his wife Thelissa and six children.
The annual Gift of Life and Breath 5K Run/Walk, now in its sixth year, is held in honor of Zollinger’s valiant fight against lung cancer. The race was his idea and is now organized every year by his wife and family along with incredible support by the AMC Cancer Fund and university’s facilities management, parking, police and office of media relations.
This year more than 575 runners registered in advance and another 75 signed up the day of the race. More than $85,000 was raised and it will go toward efforts to develop an early detection test for lung cancer.
(Photo: Thelissa Zollinger holds her grandson at Saturday's Gift of Life and Breath Race at Anschutz Medical Campus.)