ZERO – The End of Prostate Cancer's annual run/walk has gone virutal this year, and teams across the country, including "Team Frednecks" (pictured here at last year's event), will lace up in an effort to raise awareness for cancer research. (Photo couresty of Jacy Konrath/Team Frednecks)

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Jacy Konrath runs to honor the legacy of her colleague Sue Sanger’s late husband, Fred. The Sangers first learned about the nonprofit organization ZERO – The End of Prostate Cancer after Fred was diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2014. He attended support classes through the organization and participated in the annual run/walk in Napa Valley. Sadly, four years later, Fred lost his battle to prostate cancer, but not before donating to ZERO and gathering a group of runners who would continue to raise awareness about the disease after he was gone. 

“It was the least we could all do to support them throughout his cancer battle,” said Konrath. At 40 to 60 members strong, “Team Frednecks” has participated in the event since 2018.

Amy Donaldson runs to honor the legacy of her father. While she didn’t know about ZERO when her father was alive, she realized later that the nonprofit unknowingly played a pivotal role in his treatment.

“ZERO actually got the FDA to approve drugs that my dad took that prolonged his life,” said Donaldson.

Now, as a race director, she is determined to bring attention to the cause and to help break down any stigmas associated with or fears discussing prostate cancer. 

“Some men aren’t comfortable talking about this disease and this is why our event is so important,” she said.

The nationally-recognized nonprofit offers comprehensive patient support programs, including cancer diagnosis review by a case manager, assistance securing financial resources, as well as organizing activities that bring the community together in support of prostate cancer awareness and research.

According to Donaldson, since the organization was founded in 1996, some of the walls that have been built up around men’s hesitancy to discuss this particular type of cancer have slowly started to crumble. The biggest indication of change is the significant uptick in each year’s race participation. 

Despite the ZERO Cancer Run/Walk going virtual this year, thanks to the pandemic, the race has about 400 registered participants from 45 cities across the country. 

“Definitely wasn’t expecting that and we have already surpassed our funding goals,” the race director said. 

Donaldson also appreciates seeing the impact ZERO’s donations have had in her community.

“A huge portion — 86 cents of every dollar donated — goes to programs and activities within ZERO with some of the funds staying in Napa Valley and helping local prostate cancer patients and families,” she said. 

With the event being virtual this year, people based outside of the region are able to participate, which, Konrath thinks, will bring a whole new exciting challenge to the race.

“We’re a bit of a competitive bunch, so it’s game on this Saturday to pull in as much team spirit and PRs (personal records) as possible for ‘Team Frednecks’ and the entire ZERO community,” said Konrath. 

Festivities will kick off on Saturday, Sept. 19 at 8 a.m. over a livestream on zerocancer.run/napa and on Facebook.