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Brockport track star to run in the fight against cancer

by Shelby Toth
Tue, Jan 30th 2018 09:00 pm
Lauren Bates (above) warms up for Brockport's outdoor 2K mile competition.
Lauren Bates (above) warms up for Brockport's outdoor 2K mile competition.

On a college campus, among the overtired and stressed out students, you’d be hard pressed to find someone who would willingly run a single mile, let alone 4,000. Among the student body at The College at Brockport, one woman is choosing to accomplish a 4,000 mile run. 

Senior Lauren Bates will be embarking on a cross country journey this summer from San Francisco to Boston, all to raise money for the Ulman Cancer Fund (UCF) for Young Adults. Bates’s team consists of 30 college-aged students who will each be personally responsible for running between 10 to 16 miles every day of their relay style 49-day trek. 

Bates, like most, has seen the effects of cancer through people in her own life.

“My first experience of cancer was when I was a sophomore in high school and one of my teammates and friends, her name was Courtney Wagner, was diagnosed with brain cancer,” Bates said. “Seeing someone my own age get diagnosed with cancer was very hard, but it made it easier that she was always such a positive spirit … She never complained about it and everyday was still an opportunity to live life to its fullest.”

Bates also saw cancer take the life of her former soccer and track coach, Coach Dedrick.

“He was diagnosed a few months after Courtney,” Bates said. “After he was diagnosed, our track and field team made it our mission to win a sectional championship title for him and we ended up doing it … We took a school bus to his front yard and showed what we did for him.”

Along with running and fundraising, the groups taking part will be participating in nine community service projects in different states such as bone marrow transplant drives, running with cancer survivors and bringing chemo care bags to hospitals. 

Another way they are giving back to the cancer community is by awarding three college scholarships to cancer survivors. 

“We get letters from cancer survivors about their journey and why they want to go to college, and my team picks three people to get the scholarships,” Bates said. “Then we actually run the scholarship up to the door and surprise them on our way.”

Bates has run track at Brockport for the past few years and has worked to shine on her team.

“Lauren is one of the most tenacious athletes I have ever coached,” said Danielle Novara, director of cross country and track and field. “She is someone who isn’t afraid to challenge herself and fail in order to learn and grow from the experience.”

This attitude plays in Bates’ favor, as she was a latecomer to the Brockport team.

“When Lauren first joined the team she had taken about a year off of running to pursue a dance major,” Novara said. “She was pretty behind the rest of her teammates, but she took some time to figure out what she wanted to get out of her athletic career at Brockport and once she decided that excellence was the only thing she’d settle for, she has been a force to be reckoned with.”

Bates originally learned about the fund through a Facebook ad, but she explained that taking part in the run worked out better than she expected. As an exercise science student, Bates has to do a six-credit internship in her field of study. She applied and got accepted as the trainer for her team, which will count for the internship and allow her to graduate this coming May. 

“It worked out perfect,” Bates said. “I get to do something I’m super passionate about.”

As a runner for the foundation, Bates has a personal webpage to tell her story and accept donations. On it, she writes that she is running for “all the young adults that cannot run anymore,” and for “all of their families to provide support and hope in their time of need.”

Her webpage is located at ulman.z2systems.com/lauren-bates.

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Taken by Vincent Croce:
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