Strides for Survivors, the fifth annual 5-kilometer fun run/walk and breast cancer benefit, is shifting to an online format this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Normally held at Chastain Park in Buckhead, the event raises funds for TurningPoint Breast Cancer Rehabilitation, a Sandy Springs-based nonprofit that provides rehab services for breast cancer patients, and will be held Feb. 6. It was co-founded by Samantha, Lauren and Emilie Scalise, the daughters of Stephanie Scalise, when they were 15, 13, and 11, respectively, after their mother was diagnosed with the disease in 2015.

“It’s still very emotional every time I talk about out, because it was the way my daughters dealt with my breast cancer diagnosis,” said Stephanie, whose family lives in Smyrna. “They came together and realized they could give back to the community to give others the same recovery I had.”

She said Lauren was the initial driving force in starting Strides.

“It all started because Lauren had a narrative to write in eighth-grade English class, and she was in the car (with me) when I got diagnosed with breast cancer,” Stephanie said.

She said Strides’ pivot to a virtual setup has had its pluses and minuses.

“I was disappointed at the beginning, but I was not going to be able to ask for a permit from the city of Atlanta, since they’ve put all permit requests on hold (due to the pandemic),” Stephanie said. “I started looking at other things. And it means my relatives and other friends from college (who live out of town) will be able to participate this year. It’s kind of bittersweet.”

She added they learned from other organizations that had to move their fun runs or walks to a virtual format, such as the Eating Disorders Information Network, which has an annual walk around Chastain Park.

“That’s one I looked at, and we looked at RunSignup, the company we work with for registration,” Stephanie said. “It has a GiveSignup as well. They were very helpful to make it more conducive to (shifting) online.”

Strides has raised $37,000 in its first four years, including $10,000 in 2020. This year’s goal is to collect $15,000. By moving the event to a virtual format, it’s allowed organizers to open it up to a global market online.

“Although we thought it was going to be really hard to get our sponsors back this year, everybody jumped back in,” Stephanie said. “They were very giving in their offers. They gave us some silent auction items and financial backing.”

Strides’ silent auction and raffle, which are normally on site, are online this year. The auction will include memorabilia signed by the University of Tennessee and Wofford College women’s basketball teams (Samantha and Lauren today attend those schools). Strides organizers also hosted a Zoomba class and fundraiser hosted by Ntensity Fitness Jan. 23.

Under the online format, participants can walk or run 2.7 miles anywhere they choose on Feb. 6 between the opening and closing ceremonies, which will start at 10:30 and 11:45 a.m., respectively, via Zoom.

Participants and auction winners can pick up their goodie bags and auction items at the Galloway School next to Chastain Park on that day between 2 and 4 p.m., and arrangements can be made to pick them up at a later date in Buckhead or Smyrna, if needed.

For more information or to register, visit www.stridesforsurvivors.org.

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