Start Line
Oct 15, 2015 • By

A diagnosis, a dream and a difference

For 25 years, the streets of Cedar Rapids, Iowa, have turned pink on a Sunday morning in October for an especially good cause.

Earlier this month, on October 4, the sea of an estimated 15,700 pink shirts in the Especially For You Race Against Breast Cancer was mesmerizing and moving.Sandy Knight

And to think, one strong and passionate woman was the inspiration.

Sandy Knight was working at the General Mills plant in Cedar Rapids when she was diagnosed with breast cancer. She lost her battle in 1991 at the age of 39.

Before she died, Sandy started the Especially for You support group to educate women in and around Cedar Rapids about the importance of early detection. Through discussions with women in the community, the group learned that many women were aware of the importance of early detection, but financial barriers prevented them from getting tested.

Two weeks after Sandy’s passing, her sister, Cindy Young, approached Mercy Medical Center in Cedar Rapids with two requests.

“The first was to provide a staff person to keep the support group going to help support women on their breast cancer journey. The second was to find a way to raise funds so that financial barriers did not exist and women could have access to mammograms,” says Michelle Cole, director of the Especially for You Race Against Breast Cancer. “So, Mercy Medical Center partnered with General Mills and the rest is history. Here we are 25 years later.”

Especially for You logo

You can hear from organizers, volunteers, participants and Cindy Young, in this video from the 25th race, this month.

Many individuals, businesses and community organizations work together to make this race a success.

During October, Breast Cancer Awareness month, the grounds of our Cedar Rapids plant are lined with pink lights. And an illuminated sign promotes the race in memory of Sandy.

Pink Lights

This year, more than 250 General Mills employees and retirees ran or walked in the race. The week before the race, a team of employee volunteers filled goodie bags with products and shirts and others helped out during the event.  

General Mills Volunteers

Rue Patel, manager of the Cedar Rapids plant, told me he’s proud of how devoted the plant is to the race.

“We work hard at work and then we play hard to make our communities better and help each other out,” Rue says. “It’s a culture of respect, it’s a culture of inclusion.”

General Mills shirts

Proceeds from race registrations benefit the Especially for You fund, which provides financial assistance for mammography, biopsies, ultrasounds and other breast-care services for members of the Cedar Rapids community. This year, more than $415,000 was raised for the fund. In the last five years, the Especially for You fund has helped more than 3,000 people receive 5,500 services in Linn County, Iowa.

That’s probably just as Sandy would have wanted.

“She was a very humble person and I think she would have no idea how this race has grown and the support that it’s received,” says Cindy. “It’s not just a race, it’s now an event. And it’s one we’re very proud of and we’re sure she is, too.”

Finish Line
For more information about the Especially for You Race Against Breast Cancer, visit

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