Giving Back

Mayor's 5K Run on Sept. 29 a Personal Journey For West Orange Organizer

Shari Beth and her husband Jeff. Credits: Shari Beth Susskind
Shari Beth and her boys: Noah, a sophomore at Golda Och Academy in West Orange; Jacob, a Junior at the University of Maryland; and Ben, a freshman at the University of Maryland. Credits: Shari Beth Susskind

WEST ORANGE, NJ - Shari Beth Susskind is the picture of health.  A year shy of her 50th birthday, Shari Beth instead looks like she is in her late 30s, works as a personal trainer, and is the mom of three teenage sons, Jacob, Ben, and Noah.

She's been married to the love of her life, Jeff, for more than 20 years, and the family has lived in West Orange just as long.  To anyone that meets this successful, talented family, they appear to truly represent the  American dream--except for one thing.  Shari Beth is an Ovarian Cancer survivor, and each year she spearheads the Mayor's 5K Run to Break the Silence of Ovarian Cancer in West Orange.

Fully recovered, Shari Beth works with clients as a personal trainer and understands how difficult it is for those suffering with ovarian cancer and those surviving it to rebuild their stamina and strength to keep going. The Seventh Annual Mayor's 5K run, beginning with registration at 8:00 am and commencing at 10 a.m., was one of the ways Susskind wanted to contribute to help those struggling with "the silent killer." Approximately 15,000 of the 20,000 women diagnosed annually with ovarian cancer die.  It is the fifth leading  cause of cancer-related deaths among women and the leading cause of death among gynecological cancers. Early diagnosis can ensure a 94 percent survival rate over five years, but the survival rate with late stage diagnosis is as low as 29 percent.  

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Hugely successful, last year's 5K Run raised over $100,000 for research and assistance.  This year's goal is at least $110,000, and, according to Susskind, they have already raised $70,000 towards that goal.  Between 800 and 900 participants are expected on Sunday for the start of the race at Town Hall. Main Street will be closed for the race from about 8 a.m. to noon.

Shari Beth was enthusiastic about the effort during our interview, and shared that she had sent her oldest son Jacob, a junior at the University of Maryland that is also a walk on for the Terrapins Basketball Team, tee shirts for this Sunday's walk for the team.  The team donned the shirts and Alex Prewitt, a sportswriter for the Washington Post,  wrote an article about Shari, her family, the Terrapin's support, and Sunday's event.  You can read that article here: http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/terrapins-insider/wp/2013/09/25/jacob-susskind-maryland-mens-basketball-team-raise-awareness-for-ovarian-cancer/.

The schedule for Sunday is as follows:

8:00 am  Runner registration.  
Front lawn, Township Hall 
9:15 am  Kids Walk/Run Line Up
9:30 am  Kids Run Starts 
9:45 am  National Anthem
9:50 am  5K Runners/Walkers Line Up
10:00 am  5K Run/Walk Starts 
11:00 am  Program, Awards & Photo (Front steps of Township Hall) 

Online registration closes Wednesday, 9/25 at Midnight. Following this date, you can register on Sunday morning starting at 8 a.m.

Shari Beth Susskind considers herself one of the lucky ones.  She received a diagnosis early enough that her cancer was treatable and today is cancer-free.  At the age of 41, she had a complete hysterectomy, which removed the cancer but left her in early menopause.  "Many women with ovarian cancer don't have the strength to fight for themselves or raise awareness," said Susskind.  "I believe that is why I am here... to fight for all of them and to raise awareness of ovarian cancer."

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