Thank you for your interest in the “Wilhelmina E. Bell-Taylor
Race for Lung Life 5K Run/Walk.” I am excited by the talents,
creativity, experience, and knowledge of everyone who is willing
to contribute to this important outreach endeavor.
Despite the physical challenges that my mother faced -- from a
diagnosis of Hodgkins Disease at 19, to congestive heart failure,
and most recently lung cancer in 2004, she never wavered in her
commitment to impacting the lives of others. Her life mission
was to help as many people as she could before she died, and she
did just that.
My mother raised me and built BETAH Associates, Inc., a 20-year
old management consulting firm based in Bethesda, MD, on the principles
of faith, integrity, and service to others. I embrace and live
my life by these same principles. Therefore, I am determined to
continue to carry forth her legacy and mission to improve the
quality of life for others. One way that I believe I can do this
is through the Wilhelmina E. Bell-Taylor Race for Lung Life.
Our inaugural race held on April 4, 2009 was a success! With nearly
two hundred registrants in less than three months, a proclamation
from the County Executive and media coverage, we made great strides
in raising awareness of lung cancer.
This is only the beginning. Given the outpouring of support and
participation in the event, the committee is now planning for
an even larger event for next year. We hope you will save the
date: April 24, 2010 and join us at Candy Cane City, Chevy Chase,
MD to once again take steps to end the stigma that surrounds lung
In the weeks following the inaugural race, I received sad news
that a young woman named Wendy Balazik passed away on April 21
in the face of lung cancer. Wendy attended the race with her father
by her side to watch a large group of her friends run on her behalf
because she was too weak to participate. As I talked with her,
Wendy shared that she was excited and encouraged when she learned
about the race and was inspired by mother’s story. She was
so excited she even wanted to join the committee to help address
the impact that the disease is having on non-smokers since she,
like my mother, never smoked a day in her life. Though my exchange
with Wendy was brief, I know that yet another bright light has
dimmed in the face of lung cancer. Wendy’s death has furthered
my determination to do what I can through the Race for Lung Life
to make a difference in the fight against this devastating disease.
Therefore, the 2nd Annual Race for Lung Life will be held to celebrate
the young life of Wendy Balazik.
My hope is that in coming years the event will continue to raise
awareness of the deadly impact of a disease that oddly enough
remains in the shadows. Did you know that lung cancer is the leading
cancer- killer in both men and women in the United States and,
in 1987, surpassed breast cancer to become the leading cause of
cancer deaths in women? Probably not. So these are my goals --
to transform the view that society has about lung cancer and to
eradicate the stigma; to encourage patients and families battling
the disease; and to identify ways to support research, treatment,
My mother’s and Wendy’s battle with lung cancer didn’t
end in defeat, nor was their determination to fight in vain, because
their desire to help others will continue through this race and
through your efforts. I believe that as the event continues to
grow in years to come that our hard work will have an impact on
finding a cure and ending the devastation that this disease causes
in the lives of so many.
I look forward to seeing you on April 24, 2010!
Michelle Taylor, Chair
Race for Lung Life