On a very foggy Saturday morning on Oct. 25, Rikk Wilde, Kansas City zone manager for Chevrolet Motor Division, left his Louisburg home nearly 40 miles away and set up a station at Liberty Memorial for the sixth annual “Making Strides Against Cancer.”
An estimated crowd of 15,000 showed up to walk the 5K course in and around the Liberty Memorial to support and raise money for breast cancer.
Chevrolet was one of the flagship sponsors that has helped this event grow from 2,600 participants in the first year to 12,000 last year.
This is the fifth year for Chevrolet’s involvement.
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“We pair up with General Motors – Fairfax, the 14 local Chevy dealers in Kansas City and the Chevrolet Motor Division, and the three of us try to give back to the community,” Wilde said.
“I think this is a great cause. Everybody knows somebody or has somebody who has been affected by cancer. What better way to give back to the city.”
As the sun burned away the fog, and the morning turned sunny and warm, Wilde enjoyed his time at the cancer event.
“It is a great day,” Wilde said. “These are the work days that are fun.”
Along with one of his co-workers, Wilde showed some of the participants before the race started the three vehicles they had brought to the event.
One was a Malibu, which is made in Kansas City at the Fairfax plant. Another was a Traverse and the third one was a brand new 2015 Colorado pickup truck. Wilde said there were only a handful of those in Kansas City right now.
It just so happened that four days after this event, Wilde presented a new 2015 Colorado to San Francisco Giants pitcher Madison Bumgarner for being selected the MVP of the 2014 World Series.
Wilde, though, was more at ease at the “Making Strides Against Cancer” event, smoothly talking about the Chevy corporation giving back to Kansas City.
Besides this event, local dealerships donate to Hope Lodge, a facility that provides free lodging for adults undergoing cancer treatment.
Locally and nationally, Chevy is generous when it comes to raising money to fight cancer. For this year’s 5K walk, Wilde said the Chevrolet Motor Division donated $10,000, and the local dealers raised an additional $15,000.
Bridgett Myers, senior director, community engagement for the American Cancer Society, appreciates what all the sponsors give to make the event so successful and continue to grow.
“We do count on our sponsors, but it is all about getting as many people as we can together to show that passion for what we are trying to accomplish here,” Myers said.
“Without our flagship sponsors, we could not have the event, either. They help us promote the event. They raise almost a third of our money. We couldn’t do it without our flagship sponsors.”
The goal this year was to raise $415,000. Judging by all the participants on Oct. 25, the goal was probably met. For a couple of hours around the Liberty Memorial, the area was filled with walkers of all ages dressed in pink.
“I’m not surprised, but very grateful to be in such a giving community,” Myers said. “We have support for all the events we do at American Cancer Society because so many people are touched by cancer. We want to finish the fight sometime soon.”
One of the big attractions at the “Making Strides Against Cancer” is a pink Chevy Camaro that is used as the pace car. Before the event starts, many people take their pictures in front of the car.
“It is a great attraction,” Myers said. “It brings a crowd everywhere it goes. We just had the Camaro at our Hope Lodge last week.”
Judging by the big smile on Myers’ face, the sixth annual “Making Strides Against Cancer” was another success.
“It was very foggy, but as you can see, it did not deter people who are so passionate about this cause,” she said. “We have such wonderful support from the Kansas City Community.”
If you have a story you would like to see in Making a Difference, email David Boyce at Drive@kcstar.com