MRF Blog

It Takes a Village: the Mark Samitt 5k Run

September 27, 2018 | Categories: Causes, Events, Prevention

Guest blog post by Gayle Samitt:

My late husband, Mark Samitt, was a beloved family man, devoted friend, runner and successful business professional who died at age 52 in May 2015 after a long and valiant fight with melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer. In the midst of his battle, Mark created Mark the SPOT! – a campaign affiliated with the Melanoma Research Foundation (MRF) aimed at creating awareness among the hairstylist community about spotting unusual moles or lesions during the routine styling process.

Hair stylists and other salon service providers routinely see areas on their clients’ scalp, head and neck that are difficult to see during a self-exam. The Mark the SPOT! program encourages and empowers stylists to alert their clients about any new or changing spots they observe and to share the importance of a dermatologist exam. The campaign urges stylists, “If you SPOT something, say something!” As Mark said shortly before his death, “Many times melanoma is silent, you don’t feel it as it’s going through your body. But, it sometimes shows itself by having marks on the skin, and that’s where we have the chance of early detection. That is why this program is so impactful.”

In addition to the Mark the SPOT! program, Mark’s legacy of selflessness, generosity and integrity lives on in the Mark Samitt 5K Run, which began in 2017. The event was created by a group of Mark’s friends who wanted to honor his memory and continue his mission to spread awareness of melanoma. The inaugural Mark Samitt 5K Run was held in October 2017. The USATF-certified race was open to runners and walkers of all ages, and the family friendly event began and ended at Temple Beth Or in the Township of Washington, New Jersey.

Leading up to the event, all the top sponsorships were sold out, and many local sponsors joined as signature sponsors to show their support. Even a nor’easter on run day couldn’t dampen the spirits of the more than 185 runners and walkers who registered to run in last year’s event. Over 50 local volunteers braved the rain to make sure the Run went smoothly and safely. Proceeds from the Mark Samitt 5K Run benefitted two organizations Mark cared deeply about: Temple Beth Or and the Melanoma Research Foundation.

The phrase “it takes a village” couldn't be more true for this Run. We are humbled by our friends, family, and community that have created and supported this event and helped Mark's legacy to live on. Mark felt that if he saved just one person from going through what he went through with this awful disease, he had made a difference.

Following such a successful beginning, we hope to continue what Mark started by running, raising funds, and increasing awareness at the Second Annual Mark Samitt 5K Run to be held on October 14, 2018 at 9am. This year’s Run will begin and end at Temple Beth Or and is open to runners and walkers of every age and ability. Registration is open at www.marksamittrun.org; donation and sponsorship opportunities are available on the website as well. Registration fees are $30 for ages 17 and older ($27 for USATF adult members) and $20 for ages 16 and under. Event day registration will be $35 for adults ($32 for USATF members) and $25 for ages 16 and under. For more information, please email info@marksamittrun.org or call Temple Beth Or at (201) 664-7422.

Mark inspired and supported others through his determination, thoughtfulness, and generosity of spirit. The MRF is proud to continue this legacy and grateful to Mark’s family and friends for honoring his memory through their support of our community.

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