SunSmart 5k fights melanoma

South Florida is renowned for its sunny climate, perfect for sunbathers and people looking to get a tan. Yet this can have potentially devastating repercussions. Excessive exposure to the sun may lead to melanoma, or skin cancer. To help raise awareness about this topic, medical students at University of Miami have set up the SunSmart 5K.

Open to all ages, the race allows participants to take advantage of a beautiful beach scenery as they run the 3.1 miles. In addition to raising money for research, the run promotes education.

“It’s about raising skin awareness and the knowledge we give people at the event, especially on the skin cancer side,” said Joseph Kaplan, a UM medical student and one of the event’s organizers.

There are many activities offered during the race for runners to take advantage of.

“We have the Miami Heat dancers come and take pictures with runners, and Sebastian is there,” said Penelope Kallis, a medical student and one of the event’s organizers. “There will be food, water, and several vendors handing out yogurts and other things after the run is over. Then, there is always the awards ceremony, where we give out over 80 medals.”

The money during the SunSmart is donated to two causes: the Anna Fund Melanoma Program, a part of the Department of Dermatology at University of Miami, and the Public Access Defibrillation Program. Medical student Monika Freiser, another organizer, explained that the Public Access Defibrillation Program “is a program in which defibrillators are placed in public areas around the city of Miami.”

“So if someone has a heart attack, there is public access to defibrillators to shock someone’s heart back to life,” she said.

To accomplish their goals, the medical students organized numerous educational activities. Dean of the Medical School Paul Goldschmidt, who lost his father to melanoma, will start off the race with welcoming remarks. Then, after the run, Dr. James Grichnik, Director of the Melanoma Program at UM, Dr. Mecker Moller, Assistant Professor of Surgery in the Surgical Oncology Division, and Mike Parades, Director of the City of Miami Public Access Defibrillation Program, will give speeches about skin cancer awareness.