Darlene Matthews and her crew will be hard to miss at the Komen Columbus Race for the Cure.
Matthews, honorary chairwoman of this year's race, and her team of 270 will don pink afro wigs at the 21st annual event, to be held Saturday, May 18 in downtown Columbus.
"This race means a lot to me," said Matthews, 59, who's been cancer-free for 10 years. After receiving chemotherapy treatment, Matthews said she needed help getting her life back together.
She enrolled in a Mount Carmel Hospital program, which helped her with exercise, nutrition and emotional care. The expensive plan was covered entirely by the local Komen affiliate, she said.
So Matthews got involved with the race and invited members of her church, Faith Ministries, and employees and patrons of Beauty All Over, where she's a cosmetologist, to join her.
"This is my way of giving back so when another woman needs help, we've done our part," Matthews said.
An estimated 40,000 people will participate in the local Race for the Cure, making it the second-largest race in the country, said Becca Thomas, director of events and marketing for Komen Columbus.
Participants and their families are encouraged to gather at 7 a.m. in the expo area, located on Broad Street between High and Third streets in front of the Ohio Statehouse.
National and local sponsors will be passing out product samples and providing information about the types of services and programs they offer.
The race also features SurvivorPalooza, on the northwest lawn of the Statehouse, where refreshments, mini spa services and special items will be offered for survivors only.
Race officials are still accepting registrations.
These can be completed online at www.komencolumbus.org/komen-race-for-the-cure/also or on-site the day of the event.
The cost is $30 for adults and $15 for children age 15 and younger. New this year is Babies for the Cure, in which kids age 2 and younger can be registered for $10.
"We just wanted a way to get the whole family involved, no matter what the age," Thomas said.
The run -- or walk, depending on the participant -- will begin at 8 a.m. at the corner of Broad and Front streets.
The course will cross both the Broad Street and Town Street bridges.
A one-mile family fun walk begins at 9:15 a.m. at Front and Elm streets downtown.
The event is expected to raise in the area of $2 million, 75 percent of which funds local education, treatment and screening programs, Thomas said.
The remaining 25 percent supports scientific research to find a cure, she said.
Connie Browning, a cancer survivor and chairwoman of the Komen Columbus board of directors, said the organization's staff and board work hard to attract people from diverse backgrounds.
"Everybody's been touch-ed by breast cancer," Browning said. "Everybody's got a story."
"This is my way of giving back so when another woman needs help, we've done our part."
-- DARLENE MATTHEWS