Matt's Mile participant John Breen was electric on Oct. 5, beating his personal best in the 5K.
Perhaps it was the power of that hot pink running outfit he wore at the challenge of his neighbors in exchange for donations to the 12 Oaks Foundation.
"I felt very fortunate to be able to do this for 12 Oaks and the kids and families that 12 Oaks helps," said Breen. "Personal record, raised lots of money for a great cause (more than $1,500) and had a blast doing all of it. That is what all of this is about!"
"It was a little chilly, but it went pretty good. We raised $25,000 to $30,000," said Julie Hupp, who created the 12 Oaks Foundation with her husband Steve in honor of their son Matt, who died in 2009 of Birkitt's Lymphoma. Matt loved sports of all kinds, said the Hupp family.
The 12 Oaks Foundation raises money to support other families coping with cancer and to help cover the costs of sports programs, extracurricular activities and camps for children with cancer as well as their siblings.
Breen was a standout at Friday's event for being such a good sport. The challenge for him to wear pink in a sea of gold Matt's Mile t-shirts was sparked by Breen's neighbor and friend, Bill Pogson after reading an announcement on the neighborhood e-mail bulletin about a sparkly pink leotard being up for grabs.
"A neighbor posted on our community e-mail list that her young daughter had outgrown a 'pink, glittery dance leotard' and did anyone want it? Various humorous posts ensued, one of the first was 'I’d pay $25 to see John Breen wear it in the 12 Oaks fun run!'" said Kim Thoede.
The suggestion snowballed as more neighbors started chiming in with their donation offerings. Breen even offered to run the course twice (6 miles) if donations reached $600. The donations ended up being more than twice that.
"I waited until after the kids' race was completed to 'reveal' my outfit," said Breen. "I know that I heard a few comments as I was approaching the start--people outside of Prairie Crossing that didn't understand the reason for me wearing the outfit."
But Breen also heard a large number of his neighbors cheering him on with "Go John", "Go Pink" and "Yeah! That's the way to do it".
"The one that stopped me in my track literally was 'nice butt' from a neighbor that was running next to me that I had just passed," he laughed. "I was almost run over when I stopped."
Breen said his good friends Linda Scholz and Erin Miller from Somethings Brewing paced him through the run, while Fitness Pursuit owner Matt Petersen helped him through the final stretch. With their help, Breen said he achieved a personal record for the 5K.
Stopping for just a few minutes to rest and drink some water, Breen began his second time around the course.
"Had we been timing the second lap as well, I would have come very close to a person best for the 10K distance," he said.
"Did I mention that the night was spectacular? The sunset was gorgeous, the colors were fantastic and the spectators we second to none."