By Summer Barkley, 401st AFSB Public AffairsOctober 7, 2012
BAGRAM AIRFIELD, Afghanistan -- One member of the 401st Army Field Support Brigade family took a proactive approach to raising breast cancer awareness by organizing an installation-wide 8-kilometer (4.96 miles) relay race hoping to draw 500 runners and walkers all wearing pink.
The result was 763 participants who registered with many showing up decked in all kinds of pink ranging from boas, tee shirts, striped socks, wigs, running shorts, tutus to even pink "barefoot" running shoes.
"It was overwhelming," said Elba Seilhan-Barr, event organizer. "It was so great to see so many people running for their moms, sisters and aunts, it was amazing."
"I ran because it was a good cause," said Alejandra (Alice) Ortiz. "I ran in honor of Cherry Williams [mother of a 401st AFSB teammate]."
Seilhan-Barr said one Air Force master sergeant talked to her before the race and said cancer had claimed his grandmother, aunt and mother-in-law; and his cousin was a survivor. Shortly before he was to deploy, a lump was found in his wife's breast and it was a tense three days waiting for the test results which fortunately turned OK.
Seilhan-Barr recalled him saying, "'someone like me who's supposed to be tough and strong -- I was brought to my knees by this silent killer.'"
Seilhan-Barr said she inquired about 'fun runs' on Bagram in general and any runs in October for breast cancer awareness.
"They [Morale, Welfare and Recreation] said 'no, but you can take it on,'" she said.
Seilhan-Barr said breast cancer awareness is personal to her because her mother is entering her fifth year as a breast cancer survivor. So, she decided to organize "BAF in Pink."
Seilhan-Barr's goal was to raise awareness among young Soldiers, and to also let them know about the Young Survivor Coalition, that is dedicated to serving women younger than 40 diagnosed with breast cancer. She cited articles indicating a higher incidence of breast cancer in young female Soldiers as one of the reasons for her concern. In addition to raising awareness, runners and their supporters donated more than $4,000 to the YSC.
The top three finishers were Task Force White Eagle, Save 2nd Base and Save the Tatas. The prize for 'Best Pink Team' went to Racks on Racks on Racks.
Seilhan-Barr said she wanted to thank all the runners, sponsors and those who assisted, including Monica Slider, Daniel Benz, Chief Warrant Officer 2 Valeria Bennett, Sgt. 1st Class Carla E. Bolden and Staff Sgt. Cornelius A. Green.
"My dream of BAF in pink came true," Seilhan-Barr said.
For more photos go to: http://www.flickr.com/photos/401stafsb/sets/72157631703214212/
(Editor's note: an article published by Kelly Kennedy in Army Times in July 2009 states "breast and prostate cancers for military personnel were 'significantly higher' among whites and blacks…" In a July 2010 article, Kelly stated "Service women ages 20 to 24 were diagnosed with breast cancer at a rate of 2.5 per 100,000, compared to civilians who were diagnosed at a rate of 1.5 per 100,000. Those numbers greatly increased for service women as they aged. Military women ages 35 to 39 were diagnosed at a rate of 77.3 per 100,000, compared to civilians who were diagnosed at a rate of 59.3 per 100,000.")