Heaven Can Wait began in 2000 after Charlene Levesque — wife of Central Oregon Running Klub (CORK) president, Joe Levesque — was diagnosed with breast cancer. Charlene’s diagnosis prompted CORK to begin formulating the idea of a women’s event that would promote early detection of cancer and encourage a healthy, active lifestyle.
Held every year on National Cancer Survivor’s Day (first Sunday in June), Heaven Can Wait has grown into Central Oregon’s premiere community event and an annual celebration of cancer survivorship. In 2008, Charlene and Joe Levesque partnered with St. Charles Foundation to raise funds for Sara’s Project, a fund of St. Charles Foundation, which provides education, early detection and support services to ease the challenges of breast cancer for people in Central and Eastern Oregon.
Now in its 18th year, Heaven Can Wait has raised a net amount of $1,323,417 over the course of its existence. This money raised goes to benefit roughly 4,500 people in our region that utilize Sara’s Project programs such as breast cancer education, one-on-one support, financial assistance for non-medical needs, comfort kits and free mammograms for uninsured, low-income women. Part of what makes Heaven Can Wait so special is that about 400 breast cancer survivors participate in the 5K each year. This is in addition to the other 2,700 community members who chose to walk/run in honor of a loved one fighting breast cancer or who has lost their battle.
In the years since Heaven Can Wait began, the community truly has rallied around the event and made it into something spectacular. Team sizes have grown, more families are in attendance and some 165 businesses and groups participated in 2016 by forming teams, sponsoring the event or donating in-kind gifts. In 2016 Heaven Can Wait also experienced its largest participant age gap by having infant participants “walking” on their parent’s backs, all the way up to 89 year old participants who walked the whole course from start to finish. Now that dedication is what makes Heaven Can Wait special!
This year, Heaven Can Wait will be held on Sunday, June 4 at Drake Park. Visit heavencanwait.org now and sign up to participate or volunteer! In doing so you would help ensure the success of this event and its longstanding impact on those in our community suffering from breast cancer.