The green and red scenery of Garden of the Gods got an infusion of pink Sunday as the 24th annual Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure inundated the Colorado Springs park.

Along with pink shirts, shorts, leggings, tutus and costumes, participants wore pink slips of paper on their chests and backs, dedicated to those who have battled breast cancer.

“For my sister. I love you and miss you forever,” read one. Another simply had a name in a box surrounded by hearts.

This year, the community paid special tribute to Mitzi Fideler, who died from gastric-esophageal cancer this year. Fideler, a two-time breast cancer survivor, brought the race to Colorado Springs in 1995 as part of what would become known as Susan G. Komen Colorado South.

Fideler wanted to bring the event to the Pikes Peak region after enjoying it in Aspen three years earlier.

A photo and a tribute booth to Fideler were placed near the stage at the event, which drew nearly 2,200 registered participants and raised $135,000 so far, said Karen Svarverud, executive director of Susan G. Komen Colorado South. Fundraising continues through Oct. 9, she said.

Fideler was encouraging and uplifting while making the job look easy, said Linda Boettcher, a 21-year race volunteer.

“She’s one woman who made a difference,” Boettcher said.

Volunteer Christy Simmons raced alongside daughter Taylor in Fideler’s memory.

“I came in honor of Mitzi because she was an inspiration,” Simmons said. “I volunteered for the race maybe 10 years ago for a few years, and she was always there and she was just very positive. She was a great role model.”

She said breast cancer hasn’t affected her family, but the race gives her and her daughter an opportunity to be part of something bigger.

“I think it’s just trying to support the community. And we all come together whether you’re affected or not. It brings everybody together for a great cause,” Simmons said.

Tricia Tahtinen raced with her family, decked out in black and white shirts that read: “Our family fights together.” Tahtinen’s father, Jim Maez, died of breast cancer two years ago. Tahtinen and her family described Maez as very loving, caring and unselfish.

About 10 men in 1 million develop breast cancer.

“Last year was harder emotionally, but we’re here to support the cause. Hopefully, they find a cure,” Tahtinen said.

She said she’s grateful that the race has made her family stronger.

“I just think we feel stronger. It unites us. We’re a pretty close family, so everything we do is together. And this just makes it that much more important.”

“It brings everybody together for a great cause.” Christy Simmons, volunteer at Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure.


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