Damon Runyon cancer research foundation holds 5K at Yankee Stadium on Aug. 21

‘Team John,’ the group walking and running in the memory of John Cipollone at the Annual Runyon 5K at Yankee Stadium, with the stadium in the background.
Photo courtesy of the Damon Runyon Cancer Research Foundation

An annual fundraising walk/run to support cancer research at Yankee Stadium is looking to draw a hometown crowd.

The Damon Runyon Cancer Research Foundation is holding its 8th Annual Runyon 5K at the sports stadium to support all types of cancer research by early-career scientists.

The race takes place on Sunday, August 21, with participants going at their own pace on a course winding its way through the ballpark’s ramps and concourse, taking two laps around the field’s warning track.

Among the borough residents that will be participating this year are the family of John Cipollone, formerly of Morris Park, who passed away in 2010 after fighting cancer.

Morris Park resident Teresa Leonforte, Cipollone’s daughter, said that she, her siblings and cousins have participated in memory of her father over the past five years.

“We do it in memory of my dad and to support cancer research,” she said, adding that what she likes most about the Runyon 5K is that it gives her and her siblings and extended family a reason to get together.

She said that her brother originally introduced them to the run, and since then the number of family members participating has grown greater each year.

After celebrating her dad’s life during the 5K, her family usually gets together for a Sunday dinner and reminisces, she said.

This year, coincidentally the day of the race falls on the sixth anniversary of his passing, and last year, when it was held in November, it nearly coincided with his birthday, she said.

Since 2010, her cousin’s daughter was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma and her younger sisters were diagnosed with breast cancer. Now the family participates for them as well, said Leonforte.

“It also makes you feel that you accomplished something,” she said of the completing the 5K, adding that it can be a challenging course that includes stairs, but that it is also a lot of fun.

“Teresa’s story illustrates the motivation of so many of our Runyon 5K participants,” said Lorraine Egan, president and CEO Damon Runyon Cancer Research Foundation, in a statement. “They run or walk to honor friends, family members and colleagues, loved ones who have been touched by cancer.”

She added the participants also run for themselves because they know that they are making a difference by funding cancer research.

“We applaud Teresa and all of our participants for joining us in this fight,” stated Egan.

According to information provided by the foundation, Damon Runyon was writer who died of throat cancer in 1946, and who began his career as a baseball journalist.

After the foundation was started in 1946, Yankees great Joe DiMaggio was on its board and Mickey Mantle was a fundraiser, according to the organization.

Participants can register at runyon5k.org. Organization representatives told the Bronx Times that 100% of funds raised from this race would benefit research activities.

Reach Reporter Patrick Rocchio at (718) 260–4597. E-mail him at procchio@cnglocal.com. Follow him on Twitter @patrickfrocchio.

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