Jessica's Story

A day to spend with her mom - what the ride means to jessica

The summer of 2012, Jessica Runk was getting ready for her senior year of college at the University of Notre Dame when her mother, Lori, was diagnosed with breast cancer.

It was a shock to the whole family, but it was important to everyone that life continued as normal as it possibly could, so Jessica traveled to Indiana to begin her final year of undergraduate.

She called home every week to check on her mom and came home on breaks, sometimes taking Lori to chemotherapy while she was home.

“That was a little scary,” Jessica said. “I hadn’t done it or been that person who took her consistently. Watching her get it – it was stressful for me. I was worried if she was okay and worried what if something bad happened.

“It’s a weird heightened state of stress. You’re walking into an atmosphere where everyone has cancer and no one is having a good day. I had to really be an adult [in that moment].”

While it was hard for Jessica to see her mom going through this experience, Lori was able to come to a Notre Dame football game and attend Jessica’s graduation, which are moments Jessica treasures to this day.

At her graduation, Lori was finished with chemotherapy but not radiation, so her hair had just started to grow back.

“She hates all those pictures. But I don’t mind them at all – she was able to be there. She survived and was at my graduation.” And time with a loved one is more meaningful than anything.

A way to celebrate together

2021 marks the eighth year of Jessica and Lori riding together at the Ride for Roswell. They’ve done various routes, including the 10-mile and 20-mile river routes, and last year’s Summer of the Ride Grand Island route.

Jessica has a plethora of favorite memories, including accidentally doing the wrong route, getting lost during the infamous 2015 torrential downpour and riding together in the Peloton during the Celebration of Hope.

And while riding in the Ride means so much to Lori as a cancer survivor, for Jessica, it’s another Saturday that she gets to spend with her mom – just the two of them.

“To me, it’s this activity that she and I get to do together. [Lori] wearing that orange [survivor] shirt when we ride is something more for her than it is for me.

“I am proud that she is standing there as a survivor. But for me, it’s just a fun thing we do together for a good cause.”

join jessica and her mom at this year's RIde for roswell

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