Smarties, our hearts are with the Pagani family right now. Jen Pagani is our warrior, fearless and fierce, we absolutely adore her. She has fought a 6-year battle that is coming to an end. Jen is at peace and is spending this time with family and close friends. So many people feel so helpless right now, we all want to do SOMETHING, but don’t know what. Well guess what? The only thing Jen wants us to do is RUN! And we can all do just that. Let’s show that amazing Jen Pagani just how strong this community is and register for the RunJenRun 5K today and BLOW THIS SITE UP! Our goal is to double that registration, and give her one last gift! So grab your pink & green gal pals, your kids, your neighbors, your aunts & uncles – this race is going to be THE event of the spring!
Here is one of Jen’s closest buds to tell us more about it. Smarties, meet, Andrea Powell (photographed below)…
My kids have this little game they play with me that they adore and I can barely tolerate. I call it the “What If” game. They describe a series of completely implausible scenarios and then ask my already frazzled brain to come up with a plausible outcome. It goes something like this:
Kid 1: “What if the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles were real?
Me: “They’re not real.”
Kid 1: “But what if they were?”
Me: “They’re not.”
Kid 2: “Well, what if our entire house was made of chocolate?”
Me: “It’s not. And you wouldn’t like it”
Kid 2: “Yes, I would. And what if it was??”
As adults, we don’t like imagining scenarios because sometimes they hit too close to home. What if something happened to me? What would I do if I got seriously sick? How would I respond? Would I just crawl inside myself and shut off? Would I fall apart?
Well, if you’re Jen Pagani, you rise to the challenge. You meet it head on and you make a difference.
If you are a frequent visitor to Charlotte Smarty Pants, you’ve most likely heard Jen’s story. Upon a devastating diagnosis over six years ago of inflammatory breast cancer, Jen began fighting the disease tooth and nail with every chemotherapy regimen, radiation option, and experimental treatment on the market. She fought for herself and for her husband, Joe, and her two small sons, Rocco and Luca.
Along the way, Jen wondered how other women and their families were handling the financial repercussions of this costly and deadly disease. With the enormous expense of treatment, medication, and missed work, how were they making ends meet?
So Jen and Joe Pagani created the GoJenGo Foundation. With the support of generous sponsors, the foundation has offered financial help to hundreds of women (and even a few men) struggling to stay afloat because of the enormous expense that comes along with fighting breast cancer. For countless individuals, the GoJenGo Foundation has stepped in at exactly the right time, ensuring that the electricity stayed on and that food was on the table.
As the Foundation grew, so did Jen’s goals. A former Ironman triathlete, Jen dreamed of holding a race to raise money for GoJenGo. Last year on March 2, she had the privilege of watching over 1,000 participants run 3.1 miles at McAlpine Park on a perfect, snowy morning. Runners and walkers alike turned out to show their support for Jen and for the awe-inspiring legacy she has created.
And that time has come once again. The 2nd annual RunJenRun 5K is right around the corner, taking place on Saturday, March 1.
This year the race is being held in the Southpark area. The start and finish line is at Symphony Park, mere steps away from the mall. Yes, there are great exercise options (5K and 1-mile fun run), but this will largely be a family event. The kids will have a huge Fun Zone with jumpy houses, face painting, balloons, and some of Charlotte’s best-loved mascots. You can create silly family photos in a classic photo booth, and also enjoy the treats of some of Charlotte’s best-known food trucks. Novant Health will be bringing out mammography equipment and will perform diagnostics on the spot. And you can spend some time wandering around in “Jen’s Garden”, and area designated to honor and remember those whose fight ended too soon.
You should register for this race. And not just because the price goes up on January 31. You should register for the RunJenRun 5K to show your support for one of the bravest and feistiest women Charlotte has ever known.
Apparently, it wasn’t enough to create a foundation to financially support fellow breast cancer survivors. No, Jen further decided to create a very personal blog and, by doing so, she exposed the fight. She opened a window and let us in to see it all – the good, the bad, and the funny. She didn’t sugar coat her feelings; didn’t posture and pretend when things weren’t going well. She was heartbreakingly honest. Real. And that made us love her even more.
Jen has entered the last phase of this epic journey. She has opted for comfort-oriented care rather than continuing to pursue aggressive treatment. She is completely at peace with this decision. She is spending time with the ones she loves the most – Joe, Rocco, Luca, and the other family and close friends who have been by her side throughout the past six years. They are the ones who bolster her spirits and fill her with love. They are the ones who will keep her legacy alive.
You can do your part to keep the legacy alive too. You can run. For Jen.
For more information and to register for the RunJenRun 5K, go to http://runjenrun.racesonline.com. The registration price will increase on January 31 and again on March 1, the day of the race. Volunteers are also needed for course support and other tasks. You can volunteer by signing up on the RunJenRun 5K website. Go Jen Go!