Running for a Cause
The Cancer Cartel's first annual fun run/walk starts this weekend to benefit cancer warriors with financial constraints.

In need of something to break up the monotony of social distancing? Cancer Cartel’s got you covered. Don your best attire and hit the pavement (or trail, treadmill or track) for a good cause during the nonprofit’s virtual Fashion Fun Run/Walk week happening July 11–19.

Cancer Cartel was founded in 2018 in Washington state by sisters Katy Tinney and Shelly Tinney-Miller, alongside their close friend Kerry Solmonsen. While comparing their individual stories of fighting cancer, the three warriors noticed one commonality: cancer is expensive. The three hoped to fix that.

“Cancer changes you,” Tinney-Miller says. “You just want to do something.”

Aiming to lift the burden of financial stress during treatment for other warriors, the women founded Cancer Cartel. Providing monetary aid wasn’t enough for the three founders. The women wanted to give the organization a personality as big as their own and decided to incorporate fashion.

While Cancer Cartel accepts monetary donations, a large part of their fundraising is rooted in what the women call “high-end hand-me-downs” ­– donated designer clothing and accessory items that are resold through the organization’s online shop and at pop-up events. The proceeds from these sales fund accepted applicants’ everyday expenses while in treatment.

“Our mission is not to fund research or medical bills,” Solmonsen says, referencing the nonprofit’s “fashion funds the fight” mission statement. “What we know is that cancer is expensive in your daily life. We want to make the life of the cancer patient just a little bit easier.” Cancer Cartel typically covers basic living expenses ranging from mortgage bills to hospital parking payments. In the time of the novel coronavirus, the organization has also shifted to providing applicants with virtual $100 Amazon gift cards.

The virtual shift continues with the nonprofit’s first annual fashion fun run/walk that kicks off this weekend. No matter where you are in the world, for just $30, you can participate in a 5k, 10k or half marathon run or walk for a good cause – they’ll even mail you a bib to show off. Two sponsors for the event ensure the organization has zero overhead fees for the race, meaning all profits are poured directly back into Cancer Cartel’s initiative.

And don’t hesitate to put on your most eye-catching or absurd get-up to really drive home the “fun” in a fun run—for this event, it’s strongly encouraged.

“We are hoping people dress fun,” Solmonsen says. “It’s a great way for people to support people with cancer and do something different […] and it gives people something fun to do [in quarantine].”

The organization encourages participants to share photos of their running/walking ‘fits, tagging @cancercartel while using #fashionfunrun. Through online posting, Cancer Cartel hopes to create a sense of community and awareness even when people can’t be together for the week.

If you’re a cancer warrior in active treatment looking to receive financial aid for cost of living expenses, an application form can be found on Cancer Cartel’s homepage.


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