Brookfield High School students are gearing up for this year's Panerathon by asking members of their community to join them in supporting those who have survived, are fighting or know someone who suffers from breast cancer - the most common form of cancer among U.S. women, according to the American Cancer Society.
"We're trying to create unity in the community," said Brookfield cheerleader adviser Lynn Pegg, explaining that a handful of the teens have family members who have survived breast cancer or are currently fighting the illness.
"Through their support, it helps to continue the research and potentially could help one of their loved ones," she said.
Tribune Chronicle / Bonnie L. Hazen
Brookfield cheerleader captain Christchianna Goldner, 17, walks on the track ahead of Sunday’s Panerathon in support of breast cancer survivors. Goldner has three family members who have survived the disease.
Pegg said so far, around 40 students have signed up to participate, including the football team and cheerleaders.
More than 8,000 people participated in last year's Panerathon, running or walking through downtown Youngstown for the Humility of Mary Health Partners Joanie Abdu Comprehensive Breast Cancer Center. The 10k run traveled through Mill Creek Park, while a two-mile walk stayed centered in the city's downtown.
This year, the fifth-annual Panerathon will begin 10 a.m. Sunday at the Covelli Centre, 229 Front St., Youngstown. Prizes will be awarded for winners in various categories, with all money raised to be used for breast cancer research.
Brookfield High offensive / defensive lineman Carmen Furillo, 15, said, ''It means a lot to help breast cancer patients because my mom was one, and if this research wasn't being done, I wouldn't have my mom, possibly.''
Center and defensive tackle Josh Sinkuc, 16, said his grandma also is a survivor.
"It means a lot to me considering that she had breast cancer and that I can support her and other people around the world that are currently fighting. They need all the help that they can get to try to raise awareness and try to find a cure," he said.
Cheerleader captain Christchianna Goldner, 17, could be seen walking the track ahead of the event with a smile. She has three breast cancer survivors in her family - her nana, grandma and great-grandma - and she said they are all fighters.
"No one ever gives up," she said.
A tattoo on her shoulder of a feather with the slogan "Never give up" represents the fighting spirit of her loved ones. "It kind of represents everyone in my family," she said. Her great-grandma fought off breast cancer twice.
Goldner said she hopes more people get behind the cause.
"The more people that support it, the better it makes us as a society," she said.