Steps to Save Lives Virtual 5K October 2023 supporting Esophageal Cancer Action Network (ECAN)
Steps to Save Lives Virtual 5K October 2023

About Virtual Steps to Save Lives October 2023

ECAN still can't host the series of in-person 5K events we held in the past.


Our October 2023 Steps to Save Lives Virtual 5K Run, Walk or Roll will be a fun and effective way to fight Esophageal Cancer.  

Even though we won’t be Running on the Same Course – we will be on the Same Track: ​​our efforts will raise Awareness and Funding to Fuel our Quest to Reach the Day when Nobody has to Die of Esophageal Cancer!

WHO: Anyone can join – whether you are a runner, jogger, walker, or roller in a chair with wheels.  When you register, you’ll have the chance to set up your own fundraising page, with your story and pictures or videos, and all of the support to make your efforts to end  Esophageal Cancer effective.  You can even form teams and gather your crew to join you in this fight! 

You will win prizes for reaching various fundraising milestones and very cool ones for the individual and team that raise the most!​

WHAT: You will run, walk, or roll in your chair to cover 5K (or 3.1 miles). Everyone who registers will receive their event t-shirt, racing bib, medal, and goody bag through the mail. We will do our best to get your swag bag to you before the start of the race.  

We only guarantee your swag bag will arrive by October 22nd if you register by September 22nd.

WHERE: Any location that is  convenient for YOU!

WHEN: You can cover the distance at any time between Sunday, October 22nd at 8 am EST until Sunday, October 29th at 8 am

We will kick off this special week with our online Opening Ceremonies at 8 am on Sunday, October 22nd

The fastest competitive men and women runners will receive medals and awards based on their age categories and overall. 

We use an honor system, so you’ll enter your time through our online form any time from October 22nd – October 29th at 8 am EST. First, second and third place winners will be recognized with medals in both men’s and women’s categories based on age. The men and women who have the top three times overall will also get special awards.  

The fastest runners and most successful fundraisers will be announced during our online Closing Ceremony at 7 pm on Sunday, October 29th.

HOW: By taking Steps to Save Lives! For those who may need a little boost to prepare to go the distance, ECAN has partnered with the folks at Couch to 5K to give you the support you may need.  We have week-by-week guidance, an online support community, and a even a special playlist to help you reach peak condition to finish the race!

WHY: Because you want to end Esophageal Cancer!  You will fuel the fight to end this devastating disease with your participation.  Every dollar you raise will increase awareness about the link between acid reflux and Esophageal Cancer, promote Early Detection to Prevent Cancer before it Starts, fight for increased funding for medical research to find treatments to prevent, detect, treat, and cure Esophageal Cancer. You will also provide trustworthy, useful educational programming and support for patients and families at risk for Esophageal Cancer.  

If you need some tips on how to be successful in your fundraising efforts, we've got them for you right here!


A message from our event chair:

I did not give much consideration to Esophageal Cancer until 2015 when my good friend Ernie’s wife Maggie was diagnosed.  After three years undergoing constant tests and treatments - some that worked for a brief period and some that did not - Esophageal Cancer took Maggie’s life in 2019. Her tragic passing left her loving husband and two young sons bereft.

The doctors who treated Maggie said that Esophageal Cancer was not a common cancer, that it was usually seen in older men.  Most troubling of all, they said it was not a curable cancer. The overall five-year survival rate hovers around 20%.

Then, just three years later, Esophageal Cancer had an incredibly devastating impact on my own life. My true love, my cherished husband of 24 years, Bobby, was diagnosed on September 21, 2021.  Bobby was only 56 years old.

No day, whether it was wonderful or painful, will be as deeply etched in my mind as that day.    It was the worst day of our lives up to that point, filled with fear, deep sadness, and shock. As hard as it was to hear the doctors tell us the news, it was so much harder to discover I was helpless.  I couldn’t do anything to take away Bobby’s fear, anger, or the horrible, destructive cancer that had invaded his body.

The news grew worse over the next week as we learned Bobby had Stage IV Esophageal Cancer that had spread to his stomach and liver.  His first and only chemo treatment took place on our 24th wedding anniversary, and within a week he was hospitalized.  Less than a month after his diagnosis, our family joined me to bring him back to the home we loved. That’s where Bobby passed away on October 22, 2021.

Bobby’s cancer diagnosis was so shocking because he was active, played golf, traveled, attended concerts and ball games.  He went to the gym several times a week. Unlike Maggie, who experienced chronic heartburn, Bobby didn’t and he enjoyed meals with family and friends.  Looking back, there was only one time when he complained about food getting stuck and was unable to swallow.  This never happened again. It wasn’t until late August 2021 when he complained of feeling full without eating a usual amount of food that he made an appointment to see his doctor.

Living life without Bobby is not something I could even consider until it happened. He was such a large presence in my life and in the lives of our family and friends. We all miss his wide smile, his laugh, his witty sense of humor…. just some of the wonderful qualities that make Bobby unforgettable. We all grieve his loss.

The heartbreak and helpless feelings I’ve endured have left me with a determination to make a difference by helping others experiencing the same frightening diagnosis.  Most importantly, I wish to advocate for the need to make a test to determine the risk for Esophageal Cancer part of routine check-ups for anyone age 50 and older. 

This same intent is what led me to the Esophageal Cancer Action Network.  ECAN is a wonderful organization committed to fighting Esophageal Cancer through risk and awareness knowledge, research, funding, and advocacy efforts. That’s why I am honored to chair this October’s Steps to Save Lives Virtual 5K.  Together with ECAN, the steps we take and the stories we share like Maggie’s and Bobby’s and that of everyone impacted by Esophageal Cancer can help bring an end to this devastating disease in the future.  

Fighting Esophageal Cancer ~ Saving Lives!

ECAN started its work with a burning desire: make Americans aware of the risk of Esophageal Cancer posed by persistent heartburn or gastroesophageal reflux disease (known as GERD).  

ECAN launched the first Esophageal Cancer Awareness Month
effort in 2009 and since then, governments, businesses and other organizations throughout the nation have recognized April as Esophageal Cancer Awareness Month year after year! 

Awareness in NOT ENOUGH.  That's why we are an ACTION Network.
We believe an effective battle to end this devastating disease must be fought on several levels. 

While we relentlessy raise awareness, we are also working to 

  • increase funding for research, and 
  • educate patients and families about their options for prevention, early detection, and treatment 

ECAN has successfully

  • led the charge for millions in additional federal research funding and 
  • become a trusted and reliable source of medical education for those at risk for Esophageal Cancer.

About Esophageal Cancer

Deadly: One 1 out of 5 patients diagnosed with Esophageal Cancer in the US will survive 5 years  | Esophageal Cancer is the #7 Cancer Killer of Men in the United States  | Most is discovered at late stages, when treatment is rarely successful.​

Most Often Caused by Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease: Most EC in the US is Esophageal Adenocarcinoma (74%) caused by Reflux Disease  | Esophageal Adenocarcinoma increased 700% over the past 35 years in the U.S.  | Esophageal Adenocarcinoma is the fastest increasing cancer among American men  | Squamous Cell Carcinoma which is usually linked to smoking or drinking causes 26%.

Preventable: Barrett’s Esophagus is the only known precursor to Esophageal Adenocarcinoma  | Barrett’s Esophagus is caused by GERD, but the condition itself causes no symptoms  | Barrett’s Esophagus can be treated and eliminated, thereby preventing progression to Esophageal Cancer  | More than a Million Americans Estimated to be Unaware they Have Barrett’s Esophagus.

Largely Ignored: Lack of Awareness - Only 14% of Americans know that GERD can lead to cancer  | Lack of Screening - No Esophageal Cancer screening protocol in the U.S.  | Lack of Research Funding - Esophageal Cancer causes 2.6% of US cancer deaths, but receives just .5% of the Federal Cancer Research Budget.