More than 200 people will run later this month to help end a rare form of cancer that affects the body's connective tissue.
The first-ever Steps for Sarcoma 5K Run/Walk is slated for 9 a.m. Sunday, Sept. 19, at Upper Arlington's Thompson Park.
The event, organized by race director and Upper Arlington planning officer Justin Milam, is designed raise money for the Sarcoma Research and Education Fund at the Arthur G. James Cancer Hospital at the Ohio State University Medical Center.
Milam, a Grove City resident, said he had the idea for the race after his wife Chantil was diagnosed with Sarcoma last October.
Chantil currently is doing well and is undergoing treatment at the James.
"She was lucky enough that she just needed surgery and that she did not need radiation or chemotherapy," Milam said. "We are lucky and blessed in that aspect. Many people in our support group have had to experience both."
Joel Mayerson, the chief of orthopaedic oncology at The James, said the Steps for Sarcoma event is the first of its kind in central Ohio.
He said he hopes the event can not only raise money for research but also raise attention for the rare cancer.
"A sarcoma is a type of cancer that starts in the tissues that are in your arms, legs, muscles, bone, fat, etc.," Mayerson said. "The difference between a carcinoma (normal cancer cells) and a sarcoma is the site where the cancer develops."
He said there are about 1.4-million cases of cancer each year in the United States. Of those, only about 10,000 cases are of sarcoma.
He said about 2,500 cases are cancer that starts in the bone, which is more common in children, and about 7,500 cases start in the muscles and fat, which is more common in adults.
"The treatment varies quite a bit; surgically removing them is most common," Mayerson said. "For more aggressive types, we use chemo-therapy and radiation."
Mayerson, an Upper Arlington resident, said he plans to run the 5K Sept. 19.
The money raised from the event will go towards smaller research projects in his lab that will allow him to apply for larger grants to start clinical trials.
"We are actually going to start using the money for a couple of different projects as soon as we are able to get it," he said. "We are trying to take all the soft-tissue sarcomas and then we grow them in a lab in collaboration with another doctor from Nationwide Children's Hospital."
He said the lab-grown sarcomas then are transplanted in to mice, and the doctors test different types of medicine on them.
Milam said he expects to have between 200 and 250 people attend the race Sept. 19.
"We got in touch with a lot of people that are patients and employees at The James, and we are getting help from the Columbus Running Company," he said.
Those interested in participating in the race should visit the website at www.stepsforsarcoma.com. The cost is $25 for the 5K and $15 for the 1-mile walk. Awards will be given to the top three male and female runners, and a post-race raffle will feature prizes donated by local businesses.