It wouldn’t be a stretch to say that my wife is “stronger than cancer.” Ever since her diagnosis, she’s become this badder-assed version of the badass she was before, and I’m daily in awe of her mental and physical fortitude. Case in point: She’s now a pro-surfer-in-the-making, catching waves everywhere from Outer Banks, NC to Cape Cod and Far Rockaway, Queens. She’s been reading my dogeared copy of Barbarian Days: A Surfing Life and getting some pretty crazy ideas for her next lineup. (She has her sights set on Mexico.)
It’s that type of warrior spirit that Saratoga Springs-based nonprofit, the Joy US Foundation, is looking to tap into for its second annual Stronger Than Cancer Day in Saratoga, taking place on Saturday, November 2. The nonprofit, which arranges and hosts free outdoor experiences for cancer survivors and their families in the region, is partnering with more than 20 local businesses and restaurants, who will be offering the day’s participants a hybrid workout/shopping spree, as well as discounts around town, with all related proceeds going toward funding the foundation’s mission. “We’re also trying to drive traffic to [businesses],” says Joy US Founder and Executive Director Janet Abrahamson, who’s hoping that the businesses involved will be able to make a little bread on the side, too.
The concept for Saratoga’s Stronger Than Cancer Day sprang from a chance conversation Abrahamson had at her gym, Evolution Strength & Performance. In talking with local business owners throughout the years, Abrahamson said many wished that there was a memorable day in town like Chowderfest—but only for giving and giving back. So she took on the mantle of making that sort of day a reality. “Last year, we started [Stronger Than Cancer Day] at Evolution and did 12,000 kettlebell swings in an hour,” says Abrahamson, who took part in the fundraising workout with just 19 others. Local crêperie Ravenous was also involved, offering up proceeds from meals to the nonprofit. (Ravenous Owner Dave Zuka sits on Joy US’ board.) But because it was conceived on the fly, it was a much smaller event, and Abrahamson had her sights set on something a little bigger.
Enter this year’s event, which falls on the weekend after Halloween and has a superhero tie-in. (Yes, cosplayers, Superman and Spider-Man costumers are acceptable day-wear.) Aligning with Joy US’ mission, this year’s Stronger Than Cancer Day will be all about staying active while being charitable. So to kick things off, from 10am to noon, the day’s participants will be able to take part in three separate fundraising workouts hosted by Evolution Strength & Performance, Max Level Fitness & Athletics and Yoga Mandali. That will be followed by a “run-walk-roll”—for runners, walkers and rollers (the stroller and wheelchair set)—which takes place from 1pm to 3pm, all over town at participating stores and restaurants. (Interested parties can register for this leg at iRun Local.) For example, you could map your day’s course by choosing to jog or sprint from Yoga Mandali to Union Hall, a menswear boutique on Broadway, where you could pick up discounted items; then head over to the Palette Cafe for a quick shot of Joe, before hoofing it over to Bennington Mattress, where you could recharge and pick up raffle tickets for a number of prizes, including the grand prize of a weeklong getaway in Mexico (Abrahamson says there’ll be a limited number of tickets available for that raffle). Finally, from 3pm to 5pm, Harvey’s Restaurant and Bar will be hosting a Stronger Than Cancer Day reception, which will feature passed appetizers, live music, an appearance by local TV weather personality Jason Gough and a cash bar. Not to mention the big reveal of who won all the raffles.
Besides the businesses mentioned above, participants in the daylong fundraiser will include Ravenous (in for a second year), Whole Harvest, Caroline & Main, Bailey’s Cafe and Restaurant, Ben & Jerry’s, Phila Fusion, Henry Street Barbershop, Olé Hustle, Miss Scarlett Boutique, Classical Concepts Salon, Mountain Man, Saratoga Olive Oil, Impressions of Saratoga, Crafters Gallery Saratoga, By the Bottle Shop and Saratoga Day Spa.
This might sound like a tremendous undertaking, but Abrahamson and Joy US have had a lot of experience making events like this one possible in and around the Capital Region. The organization regularly hosts experiences in the Adirondacks (it’s on the lookout for a permanent home there for overnight trips), and has hosted events on Crystal Lake in Averill Park (I attended one of them) and at the Fish Creek Marina. “Our goal is to make Stronger Than Cancer Day an [annual] event like Chowderfest or the International Flavorfeast in Saratoga,” says Abrahamson. “We want it to be something that everybody in Saratoga is proud of.” I don’t know about you, but I’m going to strap on my running gear, despite being completely out of running shape and get my shopping/eating on. And maybe we won’t have to plan much for that Mexican surf adventure.
To register for any or all of the events on Stronger Than Cancer Day in Saratoga, click here.