Wilkes-Barre, Luzerne County -- Streaks of orange in Erin Pikul's hair are no salon accident. The color represents kidney cancer. "I never saw myself as one that was going to go out there and be an advocate for anything." But that was before doctors diagnosed her husband, Frank, with kidney cancer in 2010. "They found a 15 centimeter tumor sitting on his kidney."
As Erin's husband got the necessary surgery and medication needed to live with kidney cancer, the family grew frustrated trying to get information and support about it. "We would call locally and people would say we don't know a lot about kidney cancer. We looked up, you know, different walks different runs. There was nothing. There was nothing," said Ms. Pikul. So in 2012, the Pikuls hosted a one mile fundraising walk through Kirby Park called The Renal Race to benefit kidney cancer research. "We didn't know that we would ever make it into something more," she said.
Fueled by hundreds of walkers and thousands of dollars, the event shifted last year to the streets of Wilkes-Barre and Kingston. It add a 3.2 mile run and attracted participants from as far away as Florida. "We had people from seven different states last year." In its first two years, The Renal Race has raised nearly $50,000. Just as important, the event has also raised some much needed awareness to kidney disease and kidney cancer.
Candy's Place, a wellness center for cancer patients in Forty Fort, is one of the beneficiaries of the race that the Pikuls started. "I think it's phenomenal the amount of awareness that they're bringing and that the money that they're providing for the research. It's key," said Candy's Center director Chris Ostroski.
For "Renal Race 3", the Pikuls are selling tee-shirts and holding basket raffles. Erin and Frank and their 4-year-old son, Jaxon will all be on hand for the race. They vow to do whatever it takes. "It never started out as I was going to be this, you know, amazing philanthropic person or anything like that. I just needed to find a way to do something and we did it and I'm just really, really grateful," said Ms. Pikul.
Walk-up registration for The Renal Race starts Sunday morning at 7 o'clock at Genetti's on Market Street in Wilkes-Barre. The 5k race and walk start at 9 a.m. You can learn more about the fundraiser by logging onto www.therenalrace.org or https://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Renal-Race/365952443421862.