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Take A Breath for Life Foundation gearing up for annual run/walk to raise funds, lung cancer awareness

The annual 5K is set for Saturday, November 12 at 11 a.m. at the Erie County Fairgrounds in Hamburg.

HAMBURG, N.Y. — Whether you're a runner or just want to support a good cause, circle Saturday, November 12 on your calendar — the Take A Breath for Life Foundation is holding its annual 5K run/walk at the Erie County Fairgrounds in Hamburg.

Michelle McMahon, 63, is the woman behind the foundation. She was diagnosed with lung cancer in 2009, at age 49, despite the fact she never smoked. Her mother, also a non-smoker, died of lung cancer.

"I had a nagging little cough, and I thought it was allergies. My husband, who knows my history said you know you'd better just go get that checked," said McMahon.

Doctors first thought she might have pneumonia, so they gave her an antibiotic. When things didn't improve, she went through various tests which later confirmed she had lung cancer. 

She was diagnosed at Stage 1, and she underwent two surgeries to remove the cancer.

After her cancer battle, McMahon decided she needed to do more, so she started the annual event to raise lung cancer awareness and raise money for the American Lung Association. She wants to lessen the stigma surrounding lung cancer and dispel the myth that only smokers get lung cancer.

"It just makes me feel fortunate that I came through this and that I am hopefully able to make a difference in someone else's life. Maybe enlighten people about lung cancer and how devastating it can be. I'm just hoping our small little corner makes a big difference," said McMahon.

The event raised $19,000 in 2021, and to date, the event has brought in more than $135,000 for the American Lung Association.

"When we first started out, it was small, and I was disappointed at the end of it, thinking why couldn't I get more people? It's still a struggle I think because of [the myths and stigma surrounding] lung cancer, but it has grown. We have a great network of family and friends that help us put this together," said McMahon.

The annual run/walk is a certified 5K. It's a closed course at the fairgrounds and begins at 11 a.m.

There's also a fun race for kids, along with an after-party featuring live music, food, raffles, and more. It ends at 4 p.m. Admission to the party is free, and you don't have to take part in the race to attend.

Race registration is $25 for pre-sale and $30 on race day.

Click here for more event details.

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