By Matt Tragesser, Communications Intern
Last week, representatives from the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure presented Assistant Dean and Director of the Office of Student Conduct and Community Standards, Tonya Schmidt, with a Certificate of Appreciation award after raising the most amount of money in the Largest School/University division.
Schmidt, who registered her team as the Dean’s Dream Team, raised over $2,300 in honor of UW-Madison Vice Provost for the Division of Student Life and Dean of Students Lori Berquam, who was diagnosed with breast cancer in April.
“This was honestly just one way that people could show support to Lori. Whenever someone finds out news like that, you want to do something,” Schmidt said.
For its 20th anniversary, the 5k race took place at the Agora Center in Fitchburg in late May, with participants given the option to walk or run the event.
Despite having one of the smaller teams at the event, Schmidt still believed her team would raise a good amount of money, especially knowing how popular and well-liked Berquam is around the campus community.
“Knowing that Lori is such a public figure that so many people love, we thought that this would be a great way for us raise money for breast cancer research to try and find a cure,” she said.
On the day of the race, Berquam joined the Dean’s Dream Team and participated in the 5k despite receiving chemotherapy treatments just the day before.
“The race was fun. Despite the rain, we managed to wear boas and laugh. I had received chemo the day before the walk, and I was not certain how I would feel,” Berquam said. “Being in the same place with so many fighters and survivors was empowering. Thank you for making it happen.”
During the event, Berquam also took the time to meet with individuals who have been impacted by breast cancer.
“Before the race I met with others who are survivors and other who consider themselves fighters. Their courage, wisdom, and insight were helpful to me as I make my way through this journey,” she included. “I have been profoundly stunned by the sheer number of people who have been impacted by breast cancer.”
Last week, Berquam also finished her last chemotherapy treatment after enduring through five others throughout the spring and summer.
“It has been surreal to learn the lives that have been forever changed by a breast cancer diagnosis. I know my life has been changed by my diagnosis and I believe it has been changed for the better!,” she concluded.
According to its website, Komen Wisconsin has given $17.9 million to community projects, while also contributing $6.9 million to Komen’s national grants program since 1999. It will also be granting over $1 million to communities this year.