RICHMOND, Va. (WTVR) - VCU's Massey CancerCenter challenges runners and walkers in the Ukrop’s Monument Avenue 10K every year to help raise money for cutting edge cancer research.
This year, the woman at the helm of the Massey Challenge need only look at her personal journey for motivation.
VCU’s Massey Cancer Center is the official charitable partner of the 10K and Courtney Skunda serves as chairwoman of the challenge.
Skunda 's goal on race day is not just to cross the finish line -- she wants to raise a lot of money.
“That is what I’d like to see happen is have more runners participate in the Massey Challenge,” said Skunda.
She knows firsthand just what Massey means to those battling the disease.
Seven years ago, when she was just 23 years old, she was diagnosed with skin cancer. Then last year she was diagnosed a second time.
Since then Skunda has had to endure several surgeries and reconstruction.
“When they finally opened up they noticed it went down from my nose to my lip. It was very difficult because at age 23 you don’t think you can get cancer," said Skunda.
Thankfully, her form of cancer was treatable. She considers herself very lucky.
Skunda implores everyone not to take skin cancer lightly.
“If you see anything odd on your skin go to your doctor immediately. And I can stress enough that you must wear sun block every day all of the time,” she said.
Rachel Leyco, with Massey Cancer Center, said Courtney’s dedication will help the center become one of the top cancer research centers in the nation.
“Just her personal story. Her connection to Massey just truly means a lot to have her involved in the committee,” said Leyco.
None of the race fees are diverted to the Massey Cancer Center, so they rely on the runners and walkers to support local cancer research.
Skunda is hoping people on and off the course race will support her cause because she said it’s a great event for the entire community.
In the weeks leading up to race day as chair of the Challenge, Skunda will be encouraging businesses, churches and families to form their own fundraising teams.
“I know what type of horrible disease it is and I know how important it is to have a such a superior cancer center in your backyard,” said Skunda.
Each and every year the Massey Challenge raises $500,000 for research at the Massey Cancer Center.
Skunda is hoping runners and walkers dig a little deeper this year so they can top that total.