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High heeled sprinters run to raise awareness of ovarian cancer

The 6th Annual Heels for Hope Foundation's 5k Race/1 Mile Walk/25 yard High Heel and Feather Boa Dash will be held on Saturday, Sept. 7 at Wheeler Park in Oklahoma City. Photo provided.
The 6th Annual Heels for Hope Foundation’s 5k Race/1 Mile Walk/25 yard High Heel and Feather Boa Dash will be held on Saturday, Sept. 7 at Wheeler Park in Oklahoma City. Photo provided.

By Darla Shelden

City Sentinel Reporter

The 6th Annual Heels for Hope Foundation’s 5k Race, 1-Mile Walk, and 25 -Yard High Heel & Feather Boa Dash will be held on Saturday, Sept. 7, in honor of National Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month. The event themed, “Kicking Ovarian Cancer with Style” will take place at Wheeler Park along the Oklahoma River in downtown Oklahoma City. Registration is from 7:30 – 8:45 a.m.

Jari Askins, Associate Provost for External Relations at the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center and former Lieutenant Governor of Oklahoma, will be the master of ceremonies.

Emily Pierson said, “Heels for Hope Foundation was established in honor and support of my Mama, Rosemary Lee Persa and all women fighting ovarian cancer in Oklahoma. This is our 6th annual race.”

The day’s main event is the 25-yard High Heel & Feather Boa Dash dedicated to Rosemary’s love for high heels. The dashers wearing their finest sprinting heels and teal feather boas will compete to see who can grace the finish line first.

“In over 5 years, Heels for hope has been able to raise thousands of dollars for ovarian cancer research and awareness in Oklahoma and beyond,” said Pierson. “The event is super fun, and you don’t want to miss the 25 yard High Heel & Feather Boa Dash.”

The Dash starts at 9 a.m. The 5k Run and 1-Mile Walk take place afterwards. The USATF sanctioned 5k Run shotgun start begins at approximately 9:10 am. The 1-mile walk will follow immediately after.

The Heels for Hope Foundation was formed in honor of Bethany, OK resident Rosemary Lee Persa by a group of friends and co-workers to raise awareness of the risk factors, signs and symptoms associated with ovarian cancer. Diagnosed in 2008, Persa continues to battle this disease.

All Heels for Hope members are volunteers and the proceeds collected go to benefit the Peggy and Charles Stephenson Cancer Center at the University of Oklahoma.

Last year, over 15,000 women died from ovarian cancer, including over 100 in Oklahoma. This year, over 22,000 new cases will be diagnosed and half will die. Early detection is difficult but vital.

“My journey with ovarian cancer began on April 26th, 2008,” said Persa. “I was 50 years old. Classified stage IV, I had tumors throughout my abdomen and underwent extensive surgery soon after diagnosis. My treatment plan has included traditional chemotherapy and an array of clinical trials.”

In the fall of 2011 the cancer spread to Rosemary’s brain.

Persa continued, “My battle has been rigorous, but the love and support from my friends and family has helped lift me up from my low points time and again.

“Cancer is a scary word, and ovarian cancer is known for its ability to go undetected. If the contributions made by Heels for Hope can lead to research that will make this journey easier for even one person, there is no question that all of this is worthwhile.”

Pre-registration packet pick-up will be Friday, Sept. 6, from noon – 6 p.m. at the Oklahoma Blood Institute, 901 N. Lincoln Blvd. Pre-registration fee is $25. Day-of-Event registration is $30.

Raffle tickets will be available for $1 each for prizes and Heels For Hope merchandise will be for sale.

Trophies will go to the best overall male and female performances. Medals will be given for the top three finishers in each standard age category. An awards ceremony will follow the race.

Event sponsors include the Oklahoma Blood Institute, Harris Foundation, the Carroll Family and Oklahoma City Gynecology & Obstetrics LLC.

No animals, skates, bicycles, skateboards or headphones will be permitted on the racecourse. Medical professionals will be available for immediate care of race related medical emergencies.

Complete results will be posted when available at and

Online pre-registration closes at midnight Wednesday, Sept. 4. To register, or for more information visit

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