Going the extra mile to honor a Griffin Hospital volunteer

Runners at the fifth annual Center for Cancer Care at Griffin Hospital 5K Walk/Run will be able to go the extra mile and a little more this year as a way to celebrate the event’s fifth anniversary and honor a volunteer who embodied the event’s spirit.

Runners at the Saturday, Oct. 12 event have the option of signing up for a five-mile course entitled “Hannah’s Run,” which takes them around a portion of the 5K route a second time.

The run is named after longtime Griffin 5K volunteer Hannah Burke-Tambini, who died last January at age 26 after a three-and-a-half-year battle with leukemia.

‘A deeper meaning’

“When we were planning this year’s event, we wanted to do something special to mark the fifth anniversary of not just the 5K but also the Center for Cancer Care,” said Laura Howell, 5K co-chairman and radiation therapist at the Center for Cancer Care. “The idea took on a deeper meaning in January when we lost Hannah.

“As a volunteer, cancer patient and survivor, Hannah truly represented the purpose and nature of this event, so we wanted to name this run after her to always keep her spirit with us,” Howell said.

Race registration begins at 7:30 a.m.

The Center for Cancer Care 5K Walk/Run is set for 9 a.m. on Oct. 12. Starting in the cancer center’s parking lot at 350 Seymour Ave. in Derby, this fun, non-competitive event will feature entertainment and post-event refreshments for all participants and their family members.

Area cancer survivors also are invited to celebrate the event at a free survivors’ reception that offers food and free massages.

Check-in for the walk/run begins at 7:30 a.m. Pre-registration is required, and the first 500 registered participants will receive long-sleeved T-shirts. Registration is $30, or $35 for Hannah’s Run.

Individuals and teams may register online at griffin5k.kintera.org. For information, call 203-732-1284 or email 5kwalkrun@griffinhealth.org.

Was battling leukemia

Burke-Tambini started volunteering at the Walk/Run in 2010, shortly after she received her diagnosis of chronic myelogenous leukemia. She had completed her first round of treatment and was looking for ways to stay active.

Her mother, Oona Burke, an employee at Griffin Hospital, suggested Hannah join her as a volunteer at the then-new 5K event.

While in college, Burke-Tambini went on several global outreach trips to rural Tennessee and Ecuador and volunteered at a soup kitchen in the Bronx. After graduation, Burke-Tambini moved to Arizona to volunteer at Maggie’s Place, a home of hospitality for homeless pregnant women. She worked for a year before earning a director position.

‘Dedicateed to volunteering’

“Much of Hannah’s life was dedicated to volunteering,” Oona Burke said. “Even while recuperating from her treatments, she accepted an offer to speak at a cancer walk in New York City. She was a pretty amazing person throughout her life.

“Hannah was a terrific daughter, wife, sister, and friend, so it seems fitting that her memory will be honored by having this run dedicated to her,” Oona Burke said.

Hannah Burke-Tambini’s relationship with the 5K also led her to volunteer with the Griffin Hospital Development Fund, where she helped with the annual gala and other events.