Julie Ratner, who was wearing an orange tank top from the 19th Ellen’s Run, said during a conversation Sunday that it was hard to believe next year would be the 25th.
“Who would have thought?” said the race’s founder, who has from the beginning seen to it that nearly all of the money raised by the race and by other events put on by the Ellen P. Hermanson Foundation has been put to good use here.
“The money stays here and helps real people in real time. If you need transportation, you get it . . . we’re able to help people when it counts, in the moment, not five weeks from now.”
Run each year in memory of Ratner’s late sister, who died at 42 of breast cancer, and who during her illness was an ardent advocate for those stricken with the disease, Ellen’s Run was based at East Hampton High School for 13 years, “and we never would have left if it hadn’t been for that big building addition project, which made things unsafe . . . Southampton Village’s then-mayor, Mark Epley, welcomed us in 2009, and so we’ve held it at the Stony Brook Southampton Hospital ever since. It made even more sense to hold it there given the fact that the Ellen Hermanson Breast Center was opened at the hospital in August of that summer.”
Despite this summer’s especially heavy traffic, “it’s still not a problem to drive from East Hampton to Southampton on a Sunday morning” — Ellen’s Run is on Aug. 18 this year — “and it’s not even a problem to drive back,” the race director said, advising participants nevertheless to come early on race day. The start time is 9 a.m., “sharp,” preceded by “warm-up exercises and wake-up music by our D.J., Roggie Rog.”
“The Breast Center,” she continued, “has always been on the cutting edge. You get exactly the same high quality of care here as you’d find at a teaching hospital in New York, the exact same technology and equipment. We had a 3-D mammography machine, a tomosynthesis machine, before some hospitals in New York had it. I’ve always wanted to marry the rigor of a teaching hospital with the warmth of a community hospital, and we’ve done it here. That’s what makes the Ellen Hermanson Breast Center unique . . . you don’t feel like you’re in a factory.”
The foundation raised $285,000 through the race and various other events in the year past, and much of that, she said, had gone to Ellen’s Well, “which is all about reducing the stress and anxiety caused by living with a life-threatening disease. . . . Ellen’s Well is near and dear to me. It was inspired by my sister Ellen. You know, we all think we’re going to live forever, but then, when you come face to face with something that might kill you, your perspective changes quickly, the fear factor begins to loom large.”
“I was very close to my sister, but she would say that as close as we were, I still didn’t get it. I hadn’t walked on her road, in her shoes. Only others who are undergoing the same thing can really help. I’ve never been in a war, but I imagine it’s the same thing with soldiers who’ve been in combat. At Ellen’s Well, which is overseen by a full-time oncological social worker, we create circles of friends, women in the same position who can lend support, through their stories and helpful hints, that even other friends and family members can’t.”
Buckley’s each year donates roses — five dozen this year — to be given at the race to breast cancer survivors. “Instead of a bandanna, we’re giving out wonderful headbands to distinguish them this year, and they’ll be wearing pink runners’ bibs. To me, the race is not about who wins, but about these women. To me they’re the heroes . . . the sheroes. They’re brave and bold and they should be celebrated.”
“And don’t forget to mention that Bloomingdale’s gave us 1,600 Swell bottles to give out this year to all the participants. They’ll keep drinks cold for 24 hours and hot for 12 hours, like a thermos. A $42 value. . . . Last year, we had 680 come out on race day. I don’t know how many are coming this year, I don’t want to predict. I hope a lot come. Just say that I’ve got 1,000 bottles to give out and I don’t want to take them home. . . . It’s nice to have fun and to feel at the same time that you’re doing something good.”