Woodlands set for annual breast cancer research fundraising run

March 5, 2019 GMT

What’s been a long-standing tradition to raise money for breast cancer research at Mitchell Intermediate in The Woodlands has also seemed to benefit the students. This year, for the 12th annual Paint the Path Pink 5K Run and Walk, the story is no different.

“We wanted a way to get our kids here at the school involved in supporting something bigger than themselves,” Katie McLean said, who is at teacher at Mitchell and one of the founding members of the event.

The event began when Mitchell Teacher Eric Patton’s wife, Ina, was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2007. Another teacher’s wife was in the same situation at the same time, and so the Mitchell community circled them in support.

“It was a way for not only our staff but our kids to rally around and help support something they could be proud of to really make an impact,” McLean said.

Though Ina was treated and in remission, last year she developed metastatic cancer as a shock to the community and passed away just a few weeks before the 2018 event.


Now, the “Pink Team” of teachers who organize the event say that Paint the Path Pink continues in Ina’s spirit.

Mitchell Principal Paula Klapesky said that by raising money for a cause that’s close to home for the school community, her pre-teen students can realize that life is bigger than their own world.

“I want (the students) to realize that your confidence can build by helping others more than helping yourself. This is one way we can make a difference,” Klapesky said. “We’re not just here to teach math and science and language arts and social studies. We’re here to make an impact and make (the students) better people.”

Klapesky has been the school’s principal for 21 years, so she’s seen how this event has changed the students, teachers and parents in their community since its inception.

Karen Rincon, a Mitchell teacher, added that through the event, her eyes were opened to just how many students know someone with the disease.

“When you first start it, you think about the people who are closest to you (like the Pattons). Then, you start to hear about all the kids in the school who have mothers or grandmothers or aunts who are also suffering from this horrible disease,” Rincon said

Even though the event has grown from just 300 runners to over 1,000 with students of all ages and their families coming out to participate, the event still focuses on the Mitchell community.

This year, the “Ribbon Cutter” who starts the race is a Mitchell teacher who was diagnosed with breast cancer a few months ago. Her name is Georgie Bauer, and she’s going through treatment right now. Klapesky said she’s proud and honored to have Bauer cut the ribbon this year.

The event is March 30 at the Mitchell Intermediate Campus along Alden Bridge Drive. It is to begin at 8:30 a.m. with preview of the silent auction items, and the race is to start at 9 a.m.


All proceeds raised benefit The Rose, a Houston-based nonprofit dedicated to providing access to screening, diagnostics and treatment services regardless of a patient’s lack of insurance. Klapesky said they chose to fund this organization because it provides services to local women.

“The Rose has purchased mobile vans (for mammogram screenings) in rural communities. That’s one of their initiatives: to reach out to people who aren’t near a hospital,” Klapesky said.

McLean said that in the past 12 years, the community has raised almost $400,000 total. They have a goal this year to raise $30,000. Though the event initially supported the Avon Foundation, McLean said they like that all the money stays local with The Rose.

“One in eight women are diagnosed every three minutes. It’s pretty mind-blowing when you think about it, and it doesn’t matter what socioeconomic background you are—it strikes everyone,” McLean said. “It’s pretty powerful when you see all those people out there walking for the same reason.”