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INTERVIEW: Ellen Hermanson Foundation Co-Founder Julie Ratner On The 24th Annual Ellen’s Run

Nicole Barylski

This mark's Ellen's Run's 24th anniversary. (Photo: Anne Tschida Gomberg)

On Sunday, August 18, the Ellen Hermanson Foundation is hosting Ellen's Run, its yearly run/walk for the Ellen Hermanson Breast Centers and Ellen's Well, which will launch and end at Parrish Hall in Southampton.

We caught up with Foundation co-founder Julie Ratner to learn more about this year's 5K.

You're celebrating Ellen's Run's 24th anniversary this year. Tell us a little bit about the 2019 event.

JR: It's the same format, but this year everyone who registers for the run will be getting a free Swell water bottle. Bloomingdale's, bless their hearts, donated 1,600 water bottles to us. They're black with pink writing on them, and they have wonderful phrases like "extraordinary," "fierce," "worthy," "thriving," "brave," "tenacious," "strong," "phenomenal" - all kinds of powerful, inspirational phrases.

We have our usual t-shirts. We have warm up exercises before and our DJ Rah-G-Raj and we have medals for the top three finishers in every age category. We have trophies for the first three women and the first three men and the trophy for the first breast cancer survivor, a lovely gift for the first breast cancer survivor.

Something that we do every year, that Susie Roden really organizes, is there's a picture taken of the survivors before the run takes off, and there's this lovely ceremony, it began years ago. A local jeweler donated a piece of jewelry that we would then bestow upon the first breast cancer survivor to finish the run. One year it was beautiful acorn and it has all the imagery of an acorn - from a small, tiny little seed to a mighty oak, strong, powerful and vibrant and resilient. So, we gave this necklace to the runner who won and the next year the runner took her necklace and gave it to Susie Roden because she's always out there and she does so much for breast cancer survivors. On race day she's giving out roses, she's cheering the runners on. Susie then the following year, took the necklace and gave it to another woman. So we have this acorn necklace and now it turns out some of the women loved their acorn necklaces and don't want to part with them. This year, Jan Rose from Rose Jewelers, even though Rose Jewelers is closed, is donating a necklace that will be given to a breast cancer survivor who has either had a terrible year, or paid it forward and done amazing things. Someone who has been identified is worthy of receiving this an acorn necklace and that little ceremony takes place when the picture taken. It's just a very beautiful, powerful moment of truth and sisterhood and survivorship.

Will the recipient be a surprise?

JR: Yes, I don't even know who it is yet.

Year after year, so many of the same faces are joined by new ones. What does it mean to you to have so many supporters that make this an annual tradition?

JR: I think that means that we're having an impact in the community. Hopefully it means that people like the run itself. I'm a former runner. This is a happy experience that is well done and it makes them want to come back. I hope that more than that, even the people are coming because of the message, because of our mission and because we have been part of that community now for 24 years. We keep our money in the community, we want to have our money help as many women as possible, that we do what we say we're going to do. So, I hope when people come back year after year, it's because we've touched their souls, we've touched their hearts, and they appreciate the work of the Foundation, and that by honoring the people that we love and who have survived and having survived, we're making the whole breast cancer disease, it's survival and experience something that becomes more positive. Because you can survive, you can thrive and if you haven't survived by honoring women and remembering them, they continue to live on at least in our hearts.

Could you speak a bit about the impact of the Run on the Foundation and the community?

JR: I think the run is very visible and we talked about how many people come to the run, and so it's a community event. We encourage people from the community to come. It's accessible, because it's $35 in advance and $45 on race day. So, it truly is a grassroots community event because it is made up of the community and the money goes back to the community. It's kind of a signature event of the Foundation and I think for people it is almost interchangeable - The Ellen Hermanson Foundation and Ellen's Run. Because we are a community, we're highly visible, and I think it has helped make the Foundation to become better known, and for our work and what we do to become better known.

Where the course will take attendees?

JR: It really is a beautiful course. It starts and ends in front of Parrish Hall in Southampton - it's a big loop and it goes along the water. The map is on our website. It's a very fast course because it's flat and there's no hills.

Is there anything else you'd like to add?

JR: People are welcome to come in on Saturday between 9 a.m. and 12 p.m. to register and pick up their t-shirts. And then if they miss that and they wake up Sunday morning and want to do the run, between 7:30 to 8:30 a.m., they can come to Parrish Hall, register, get a t-shirt, get a water bottle, and sign up.

We have a fantastic runners raffle. Your bib number is your raffle number. There are little mini massages that are provided by the Hospital after the run. We have a lovely award ceremony, we have trophies and medals. It's really just a wonderful, feel good event, there's tremendous energy there. When I stand on the ladder and look out before the race starts, it's a sea of people, it's spectacular.

Parrish Memorial Hall at Stony Brook Southampton Hospital is located at 265 Herrick Road in Southampton. For more information, visit www.ellenhermanson.org.

Nicole is the Editor-in-Chief of Hamptons.com where she focuses on lifestyle, nightlife, and mixology. She grew up in the Hamptons and currently resides in Water Mill. www.hamptons.com NicoleBarylski NicoleBarylski

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