As you all know by now, bringing awareness to skin cancer is something that I am very passionate about, and since May is Skin Cancer Awareness Month I have several related posts planned for next month.  Last year I ran in the TKO Melanoma 5K, and as always, wrote a race recap about my experience.  This winter I reached out to Suzanne, the race director, to see if I could help her spread the word about her race.


Suzanne told me that they had set up a mentoring program for this year’s race.  Last year students volunteered to work to fulfill service hour requirements and the race staff quickly realized that students had a lot more to offer than just assembling swag bags and helping with packet pick-up.  The mentor program was set up to give students an opportunity to work together as a team and individually to improve their communication skills, develop their natural abilities, and learn new skills.  Students were allowed to pick one of ten different teams to work on.


Student speaking with potential sponsor

Allie, a high school junior was asked to write a guest post for Deb Runs as one of her projects.  Allie is interested in studying medicine and joined the project so she could get meaningful service hours for the National Honor Society.  Once a part of the mentoring program, Allie selected the Research & Education team so she could work under the guidance of a dermatologist and help research melanoma.  She will also help plan educational activities for race day.


Allie – guest writer

With out further ado, I would like to welcome Allie to tell you about this year’s race…

In addition to commemorating our loving friend and neighbor Theresa Kay O’Connor who died of melanoma in October 2012, the TKO Melanoma 5K Run/Walk was organized to spread awareness about the dangers of tanning.  Many teens think tanning beds are completely harmless, when in actuality, that couldn’t be further from the truth.  Using a tanning bed is particularly dangerous for younger users; people who begin tanning younger than age 35 have a 59% higher risk of melanoma (Source).

Back in August, I learned the TKO Melanoma Run/Walk was asking students to join a team to organize the 5K.  This was a no-brainer for me because it entails everything—I am able support the O’Connor family and conduct service-work that is relevant to me.  In September, I joined the Research and Education Team to conduct research and develop an education campaign because of my interest in science and medicine.  With this experience, I’m in a leadership role working under the guidance of a dermatologist and advising 8th graders who are also working on the team.


Students celebrating successful fundraiser

Currently, our team is doing the finishing touches for our race day activities. Our “No Tanning Booth” will be as much fun as it is educational.  We’ve also organized a fundraiser at Frankiberri’s Frozen Yogurt in Moorefield Village for Melanoma Monday, May 5th.  (Please join us! They are going to donate 20% of the proceeds to our charity!)

I’m one of 25 students working incredibly hard to plan a quality event.  We have awards, raffle prizes, a very special kick off, food vendors, face painters, balloon artists, and even Dr. Tim Turnham, Executive Director, from the Melanoma Research Foundation will be there!

It feels good to know that I am helping to inform my generation about melanoma and to let them know the dangers of tanning are for real!  It’s also nice to see so many members of my community getting together to support this cause.

Race day is Saturday, May 10th at Creighton Corner Elementary School.  All proceeds from the race will be going to the Melanoma Research Foundation.


Join us to run, walk, or volunteer!
Race information can be found at

  • Questions:
  • Have you ever gotten a bad sunburn?
  • Did you ever use a tanning bed?
  • Do you get your skin checked by a dermatologist?