Ready to run

In 2012, Bridget Aylen, then 10, of Mercer Island, won the Half Mile Kids’ Dash in the girls’ category. Here, her father, Richard Aylen, congratulates her. - Matt Brashears/Special to the Reporter
In 2012, Bridget Aylen, then 10, of Mercer Island, won the Half Mile Kids’ Dash in the girls’ category. Here, her father, Richard Aylen, congratulates her.
— image credit: Matt Brashears/Special to the Reporter

As Island runners are preparing their legs and lungs, the Island is getting ready for the 42nd Annual Mercer Island Half. The event will raise funds for colon cancer prevention and Rotary Club charities.

“It looks like it could be our biggest event yet,” said Rotary Race director Dawn Naye. Pre-registration numbers are up this year. Naye said 3,800 people have already signed up for the race, and they're expecting around 5,000 runners.

Participants have many choices. There is the half marathon run/walk, the 10K run and the 5K run/walk. Children 10 and under can compete in the half-mile Kids’ Dash. All races will begin at the Mercer Island Community and Event Center, with the half marathon following the Mercer Ways around the Island. The 10K travels east across the Island’s north end, cutting back to the west side and then back to the start, and the 5K takes the east side across the Island’s north end and back.

Added this year were free training runs, offered by Mercer Island fitness studio, Kix & Spinz. For the second year in a row, Sound Transit is partnering with the race, providing free bus rides to and from the Island on race day for those presenting their race bib.

Naye, in her fifth race as a director, said one of the goals for organizing this year’s race was to make it more of a community and family event.

“We're really trying to get local businesses involved,” said Naye. “We’ve had fabulous support from businesses on the Island, from booths at the event to posting pre-registration parties and training runs. It’s feeling more like a community event than it first did when I got involved five years ago."

The 2014 Mercer Island Half will take place Sunday, March 23, with day-of-event registration beginning at 6:30 a.m. Runners can pick up race bibs and registration materials at the Pre-Race Expo Saturday, March 22 from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Mercer Island Community and Event Center.

Islanders should plan for traffic delays between 7:30 a.m. and 1:00 p.m. Southbound East Mercer Way will be closed from Mercerwood Drive to S.E. 70th Place from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. S.E. 24th Street will also be closed from 78th Ave S.E. to 84th Ave S.E. between 7 a.m. and 1 p.m. Islanders are suggested to use Island Crest Way as the primary roadway.

For more information, visit


Swedish Cancer Institute Patient Assistance Fund

Where does the money raised by events such as the Mercer Island Half, go?

Money raised by groups such as Rotary for Swedish Hospital and colon cancer awareness also help patients beyond research and medical treatments.

One example is the Patient Assistance Funds made possible thanks to community support.

The fund provides financial assistance to cancer patients and their families receiving care at the Swedish Cancer Institute. A team of Swedish caregivers determines eligibility and need, and works with patients to identify resource gaps where assistance funds can have the greatest impact. Fund disbursements are between $100 and $1,000.

These funds support quality of life needs for patients and their families. Typical expenses include groceries, rent and utility assistance, parking validation; travel to treatment sessions, child care; assistance with quality of life medications (such as pain and nausea), back to school supplies for children and more.

This type of support is critically important as cancer is an extremely disruptive disease for patients and their families, leading to lost wages and additional expenses. Swedish Cancer Institute has identified patients living with colon cancer as having particular need, due to a lack of financial assistance programs available to them to aid with living expenses.

Swedish Medical Center records show who was helped by this fund in 2013.

•   Nearly 60 percent of that fund helped 224 Breast and GYN cancer patients.

•  Nearly a third went to help 220 General – non breast and GYN cancers patients - that would include colon cancer patients.

•  Five percent went to help 200 children.


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