What a difference a year makes.
Hundreds of local runners and walkers recently gathered at Woodloch Pines Resort just outside Hawley to participate in one of the season's first 5Ks.
Last spring, a looming thunderstorm took its toll on race numbers. However, this time around Mother Nature cooperated with perfect weather conditions.
Blue skies, sunshine and temperatures in the 60s greeted competitors at the start of this year's BK Hope Cures 5K Walk/Run.
The event was founded and is organized each year by Bob Kiesendahl.
A former standout athlete at Wallenpaupack Area who graduated from Cornell University, Kiesendahl was diagnosed with CML, a particularly aggressive form of leukemia in 1998.
He was 28-years-old with no prior medical issues.
Needless to say, this was a bolt out of the blue ... one that would challenge Bob to the depths of his being.
"After my diagnosis and the initial treatment at Penn State Hershey, the cancer went into an accelerated phase," he said.
"It was determined that I'd need a bone marrow transplant to survive."
Thankfully, a non-family member match was found and Bob headed out to the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle to begin the rigorous course of treatment.
Following an arduous regimen of chemotherapy and radiation, the transplant was done and a slow recovery began.
Seattle was Bob's home for more than four months. There were some dark, dark days; however, with the help of family and friends, he finally beat the odds.
"It was during this time in Seattle that I began to focus on what I could do to help others affected by cancer," he recalls.
Page 2 of 3 - "There, I created our slogan: Hope Cures.
"These words motivated me in my own personal battle. They empowered me and allowed me to focus on my future."
It wasn't long after Bob's return from Seattle that he began the process of founding "BK Cures," his non-profit cancer awareness organization.
Once again, along with family and friends, Bob began holding periodic events at Woodloch Pines and Springs to help raise funds in the ongoing battle against cancer in all of its insidious forms.
The 14th Annual BK Cures 5K is just the most recent in Bob's undying effort to eradicate this disease from the planet.
An enthusiastic group of more than 300 folks turned out to participate this year.
Once again, the course was challenging and scenic. Runners and walkers of all ages and abilities headed out to show their support for the cause.
"I was blown away by the competitive runners watching their pace," Bob said. "I was equally impressed by the stamina & speed some of our younger runners displayed.
"Congratulations to all who participated ... and thank you!"
"Thank you to all of our volunteers & sponsors. I look forward to seeing you all next year."
All monies generated by the Hope Cures 5K are donated to LiveStrong, the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, Penn State Hershey Medical Center, Leukemia.org, the Susan G. Komen for the Cure.
Caleb Jensen was the overall race winner at the 14th Annual BK Cures 5K.
Page 3 of 3 - The talented young runner from Honesdale covered the course in a time of 16:55.
Rachel Fritz captured the women's overall crown.
Another Hornet harrier, Fritz stopped the clock in a time of 21:48.
Other winners and their brackets included...
F: Mackenzie Turner
M: Patrick Johnson
F: Angela Franko
M: Brendan Keegan.
F: Tiffany Leventhal
M: Jason Kenneck
F: Michelle Walutes
M: Ken Hewlett
F: Donna Paterno
M: Andy Leo
F: Cathy Howell
M: Joe Macey
M: Joe Murray
•Top Fundraiser - Bridgit Corcoran.