For the second year in a row, an East Hampton team took home the prize for the largest to compete in Ellen's Run in Southampton to raise money for breast cancer.
East Hampton Village Deputy Mayor Barbara Borsack, the team's organizer and a breast cancer survivor, took home the sneaker statue after she walked the 3.1 miles on Sunday.
Borsack was first diagnosed with stage-one breast cancer in January 2009. After a single mastectomy and reconstruction, followed by almost three months of chemotherapy over the spring and summer, she took the suggestion of her niece Shawn Mitchell to get a team together for Ellen's Run.
Two and a half years later, she said while she knows all too well that doctors don't consider cancer patients cured until the five-year mark, the rate of occurrence has dropped significantly for her. "To me every test that comes back clean is positive," she said.
That first August after the diagnosis, she was too tired to take part in the race, but gathered a team of 35 of her family and friends, who walked and ran.
By the next summer, her energy had rebounded and with a new sense of appreciation for life, she competed in her first race with more than 80 participants on her team.
"This year, we had at least 80," she said, adding that some registered on the day of the race. The team was made up of her relatives from her grandchildren in strollers to her husband, Ted Borsack, and three of their four children who live locally. Mitchell, pregnant this year, cheered from along the parade roue.
Borsack's sister and Mitchell's mother, Linda, competed, as well. Borsack thought it poignant since Ellen's Run was started by Julie Ratner in honor of her sister Ellen Hermanson, "who was born the same year as I was and yet lost her battle with breast cancer many years ago."
"Linda was there for me when I woke up from surgery and people like that in your life make a huge difference in how you are able to recover from something like cancer," she said.
Fellow members of the , where Borsack has been an EMT since 1991, and those she works closely with at , like Village Attorney Linda Riley and Dan Reichl, the code enforcement officer and building inspector, also participated.
Though Borsack was the catalyst for the team, she believes so many turn out are due to the reason for the race in the first place. "I think they really are doing it more for the cause. The one thing about breast cancer that I've really discovered is that it really touches everybody. Everybody has a grandmother, mother, sister, friend who has has had it."
The proceeds from Ellen's Run, in its 16th year, goes to The Ellen Hermanson Breast Center at .
"Every woman out here needs to have that breast center," Borsack said. "It's not for me, it's for our daughters, grandaughters, it's for you. That's what I'm fighting for."
Borsack's cancer was caught early, during an annual mammogram, she said.
While she lauded the treatment she received at Southampton Hospital, she said she saw an opportunity during that time to add something that was missing. Last year, she started a Hospital Ambassador program, where volunteers assist patients and their family — whether it's helping them get information or just keeping their spirits up in the waiting area.
"I just really appreciated the staff, everything they did for me. I really feel like they saved my life," she said. "I kept trying to think of a way to give back. If I had money it would have been a huge donation."
Between race registrations and pledges, Borsack isn't sure how much her team raised. The final tally isn't what's on her mind.
"It's like an anniversary, a celebration — one more year," she said.