After six years, the Putnam City Cancer Classic is running smoothly. The annual 5-kilometer race and 1-mile fun run began in 2008, as part of Putnam City Schools’ fundraising for cancer research at OMRF. The most recent Cancer Classic was run Nov. 2 at Stars and Stripes Park in Oklahoma City.
Race organizer Jason Hasty, who teaches physical education at Western Oaks Elementary School and serves at Putnam City Schools’ District Chair for Physical Education, said it gets a little easier every year because so many people volunteer to help.
“We had more than 1,000 people come out and had nothing but compliments,” he said. “Volunteers gave us lots of help, so while there’s plenty of behind-the-scenes work we did to prepare, the day of the race, it just rolls.”
Putnam City Superintendent Dr. Fred Rhodes calls the Cancer Classic a fun event with a serious purpose.
“Every year a thousand or more students, parents, educators and members of our community gather together for this run to raise money for cancer research at OMRF,” he said. “We appreciate so much the giving spirit of all involved in this meaningful event.”
This year’s overall winner was Tyler Stevens, 17, of Jones, who finished the 5k in 17 minutes 50 seconds.
“This was my third time running the Cancer Classic and it’s gotten bigger each year,” Stevens said.
Though it was a chilly morning, Hasty said they couldn’t have chosen a better day if they tried.
“This year we added a few things for the racers, including a mat a hundred yards from the end that reads the race chip,” he said. “That way every runner got their name called when they crossed the finish line.”
Even with competition from other races around the state, Hasty said he was pleased with the turnout and is already looking forward to next year’s race.
Putnam City Schools began raising money for cancer research in 1976 and, to date, have donated more than $3 million to OMRF. In addition to purchasing laboratory equipment and supplies, the cancer drive established the Putnam City Schools Distinguished Chair in Cancer Research at OMRF, which is held by Linda Thompson, Ph.D.
OMRF researches cancer at every stage. Scientists in the Cell Cycle and Cancer Biology Research Program study how problems in cell division can set the stage for cancer. Using OMRF’s Advanced Magnetic Resonance Imaging Center, researchers have discovered biomarkers which could be used by doctors to diagnose some brain cancers.
OMRF scientists Rheal Towner, Ph.D., and Robert Floyd, Ph.D., are in phase 1 clinical testing of a drug they think could be key to stopping the most deadly form of brain cancer, glioblastoma multiforme.
And this year, the foundation welcomed David Jones, Ph.D., as head of the Immunobiology and Cancer Research Program. His research aims to “rehabilitate” cancer cells and redirect them to a less harmful path.