Stef Ripple’s “Do Your Best” 5K Keeps the Wave Going

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Stef Ripple, a nonprofit organization focused on providing hope, encouragement and support for ovarian cancer patients and their families, will host its third annual Stephanie Ashdown Memorial “Do Your Best” 5K on September 28 in Arnold.

The annual race, named for the encouraging daily mantra Stefanie Ashdown repeated to her children, aims to spread ovarian cancer awareness and raise money for Stef Ripple so the organization can continue to help families affected by ovarian cancer. With the help of Nana Sue Photography~Healing Images, and the Greater Annapolis Healthy Kids Running Series, organizers hope to make this year’s race the most successful since the fundraiser began in September 2017.

In the first year of the race, Stef Ripple signed up 245 competitive runners and walkers, and raised $18,000 with the help and support of local businesses, as well as community members who did not sign up to run or walk but registered to support the event.

This year, with the incorporation of two additional nonprofit organizations, and support from Johns Hopkins, the Wellness House of Annapolis, and the National Ovarian Cancer Coalition, the race is expected to draw more support than ever. Wendy “Nana Sue” Preslan, founder of Nana Sue Photography~Healing Images, said “the goal is to make this year big,” both in terms of money raised and race participants. About 400 participants are signed up for the race already and Preslan expects to see approximately 500 registered by race day.

Further, the fundraising goal for this year’s event is $20,000. With both Nana Sue Photography~Healing Images and the Greater Annapolis Healthy Kids Running Series involved, race organizers expect to push the fundraiser to the next level.

“The goal of the race is to bring the community together,” Preslan said. “Many [support] organizations have overlapping responsibilities and this race is a chance for them to come together, support each other’s mission and touch more lives.”

Preslan created Nana Sue Photography~Healing Images to empower children to express themselves through photography. According to Preslan, “children’s lives can be impacted by many things, including grief, anxiety, depression, divorce and diseases like cancer.”

She offers art therapy through photography workshops to children impacted by these issues, and encourages them to express themselves through non-verbal communication with the goal of increasing their confidence. Preslan’s students will take photos at this year’s “Do Your Best” 5K, where they will practice their photography skills, and more importantly, help raise ovarian cancer awareness in the community. Additionally, the Greater Annapolis Healthy Kids Running Series will kick off the event with a kids run, showing the community that being fit and active is fun, something Ashdown believed as well.

The race will begin at 8:00am on September 28 at Belvedere Elementary School in Arnold. Participants can register online at www.active.com and can get more information about the Stef Ripple mission at www.stefripple.org.

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