by GREG SIERING
In the fall of 2000, a bittersweet Bloomington tradition began. That’s when 2,400 people gathered for the first Hoosiers Outrun Cancer (HOC) event, an opportunity to remember family and friends lost to cancer, to celebrate survivors, and raise money to help the Bloomington Health Foundation (BHF) support families fighting the disease.
This year HOC celebrates its 20th anniversary on September 28. More than 5,000 people are expected to participate.
HOC was the brainchild of Dorothy Ellis and Karen Knight. Both had family members battling cancer. They wanted to create an event to support others who didn’t have the same financial and emotional resources they had; they founded HOC as both a fundraiser and a memorial run.
Ellis says it gives her joy to see people wearing HOC T-shirts around Bloomington. “I’m proud of the event and proud that our community can have an event like this,” she says.
In HOC’s early days, most people participated as individuals, although one group began a team tradition that has become a hallmark of the race. In 2000, more than 250 Indiana University students ran and walked in memory of Jenny Suhr, an IU junior who had passed away at age 20 the previous December from glioblastoma. Her mother, Jane Suhr, has led Team Jenny every year since, celebrating the life of her daughter. “It’s always a bittersweet event for us,” she says. Suhr expects 50 to 75 people will join Team Jenny in its 20th year.
While HOC is an important fundraiser—with more than $3 million raised since the event’s founding—BHF president Jon Barada says the teams and stories are what makes the event important. “We feel almost honor bound to do it,” Barada says, “because of what it means for the community. It serves as a memorial and a celebration of survivors.”
Summing up a common feeling about HOC, Suhr adds, “Most of us will be touched by cancer at some time. None of us can do it alone. We need to support each other, and Bloomington is a great community to do that in.”
For more information, visit hoosiersoutruncancer.org.