The 2011 Gary Papa Run

Thousands came out to honor Gary Papa's legacy and raise money for prostate cancer research.

June 19, 2011 7:29:25 PM PDT
It was another huge outpouring of support for Sunday's annual Gary Papa Run and Walk to fight prostate cancer.

With the blast of an air horn and the sweep of an Eagle wing, 4,000 plus runners and walkers were on their five Kilometer way.

The annual gathering has a two-fold mission, to raise money to help fund prostate cancer research, and simply raise awareness to let men know there is a simple blood test that can help detect the disease that kills 28,000 men a year in the US.

The annual event is now named for Gary Papa, the 6ABC sportscaster who lost his battle with prostate cancer two years ago.

Action News sports anchor Jamie Apody is co-chair of the run.

"We raised over $226,000 to fight for a cure so that what happened to Gary doesn't happen to anyone else's family," said Jamie.

Talking with Gary Papa's widow Kathy, survivor Fred Allen telling her how his daughter surprised him Sunday morning by putting together a team of over 40 people to support him in fundraising.

"It makes us want to do better and get better, and to find new cures for this dreaded disease," said Fred Allen.

Among the many teams participating was Team Papa, 136 6abc employees and their significant others.

Kathy Papa was asked about the event that has become an enormous yearly undertaking that begins and ends at the Art Museum.

"I'll tell you it is bitter sweet," said Kathy Papa. "It's sad Gary is not here, however it is an incredible legacy as well. I think he would almost be embarrassed by the attention, but he would be thrilled and honored that so many people come out."

At 6abc, Gary is never far from our thoughts - a tribute to him hangs on a wall inside the building and his picture sits on Jim Gardner's desk.

"I think about him a lot and a day doesn't go by when, for one reason or another, I don't think about Gary," Jim said. He went on to say he misses Gary's smile and that larger than life personality.

"He seemed to really be able to enjoy life beyond any limit that seemed fair!" Jim said.

Organizers of the Gary Papa Run say Gary's name carries a lot of weight. Every year more runners sign up, more money is raised and more men are getting the message.

"When someone gets before the camera and isn't shy about discussing that, it's the greatest thing in the world," said Shelley Schwartz of Prostate Health International."

"He stood up and shouted 'I have prostate cancer and you might too, so don't be a fool, get checked. It's not unreasonable to think he saved some lives," said Jim.

This year's event raised over $226,000, with the money going toward providing screenings and funding research in the hope of one day find a cure for the disease.