■ Gretchen Whiting (wearing Bib No. 3611) passed away on May 12, 2009, after a four-and-a-half year battle with melanoma. Team GG raised $16,000 for the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center at last year’s event. This year, the team will be named Love Your Shade with Team GG; team members have already raised more than $36,000 for the Hutch. photo courtesy  of Ren  Whiting
■ Gretchen Whiting (wearing Bib No. 3611) passed away on May 12, 2009, after a four-and-a-half year battle with melanoma. Team GG raised $16,000 for the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center at last year’s event. This year, the team will be named Love Your Shade with Team GG; team members have already raised more than $36,000 for the Hutch. photo courtesy of Ren Whiting
Ren Whiting is learning to take life as each day comes. For Whiting and his 6-year-old son, Jack, this Sunday morning will assume an entirely new meaning than it has each of the last three years. The two will run without Gretchen, Jack's loving mother, but her memory will certainly be alive with each stride.

After nearly a four-year battle with melanoma, Gretchen Howison Whiting lost her battle with cancer on May 12. Since doctors discovered the cancerous lump under her right arm in 2004, Whiting dedicated her life to cancer activism. Raising awareness through each interaction, she participated in a number of clinical trials, countless speaking engagements and even had her story published in "Chicken Soup for the Soul: The Cancer Book."

"She deeply believed that she could beat [cancer] and make a difference in the world," said Ren Whiting. "When we first found out about [her diagnosis], we talked about how this was an opportunity for her to make sure people understood the dangers of melanoma."

For each of the last three years, the Whitings have led an incredible following to the annual Shore Run/Walk. Marching under the name of Love Your Shade with Team GG, the family has helped raise more than $40,000 for Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center (FHCRC).

This year, with a contingent of 150-plus, the team has already raised $36,000 for the Hutch's Immunology Initiative.

"The Hutch was always so supportive of Gretchen and our family," Whiting said. "We always knew we were getting the best treatment available."

A CELEBRATION OF SURVIVAL

In this, the Shore Run/Walk's 32nd year, more than 3,000 gathered at Leschi and Seward parks on Sunday, June 28. The 5K run/walk at Leschi began at 8:15 a.m., while the 6.7-mile run from Seward started at 10:15 a.m. All roads led to Madison Park for the annual Party in the Park and the finish line.

For Madison Park resident Annette Rieger, Sunday's events represent survival and celebration. Nearly 25 years ago, she was diagnosed with breast cancer. After beating the disease a first time, the tumor resurfaced seven years later in 1991.

"At the time, I had a young daughter and a new family," said Rieger, who has participated in the Shore Run/Walk each of the last 18 years. "I had to be optimistic. But overall, I am one of the lucky ones."

Rieger and her family are in charge of the post-race celebration. For years, she has worked with local merchants and businesses to arrange the Party in the Park - complete with live music, food and plenty of prizes.

"It's a day for everyone to come together and celebrate life and survival and to forget about the pain," said Rieger, who also helps coordinate volunteer help from the Park Shore Retirement Community. "It really is a wonderful event for families and friends to be a part of."

Proceeds from the event benefit immunotherapy research at the Hutch. Since 1977, the Shore Run/Walk has amassed nearly $2 million for cancer research. Last year's event raised $159,000 alone.

For more information on the 32nd-annual Shore Run/Walk, visit www.fhcrc.org/shorerun.