Around the Rivers: USC Grad Organizes 5K In Memory of Her Father

Jessica Woiner Fera is helping organize the first annual Miles Against Melanoma 5K on June 16.

Registration is underway for the first annual Miles Against Melanoma 5K.

The family-friendly walk or run on June 16 at South Park will raise awareness and funds for melanoma.

2002 graduate Jessica Woiner Fera signed on as co-director of the organization due to her experiences with the disease.

Her father, Tim Woiner, died in April 2010 after a three-year battle with melanoma. He was 59 years old.

"He never used a tanning bed and never had a bad sunburn," Jessica said. "My dad never thought a mole would take his life. I want people to understand the severity of melanoma and the importance of yearly skin exams. If you become educated about the disease, and know what to look for when it comes to new and changing moles, you could save your life or the life of a loved one or friend.”

The Woiners lived in for 23 years. In 2009 they moved to Washington's Landing where Tim kept his boat.

"He loved boating and spending time on the rivers," Jessica said.

Eight months after Tim died, Jessica's mother, Rita, was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. After surgery, chemotherapy and radiation treatments, she is cancer free.

Rita continues to run their family diamond business, Bella Diamond, in the Clark Building.

Tim Woiner was treated by Dr. John Kirkwood at Hillman Cancer Center in Shadyside. Proceeds from the 5K and all local Miles Against Melanoma events benefit melanoma and pancreatic cancer research and awareness through the University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute, under the direction of Kirkwood.

Kirkwood also treated Jessica's husband, 1997 USC graduate Ric Fera, who is a two-time melanoma survivor.

"It’s in my dad’s memory and in my husband and mom’s honor that I’m making it my mission to spread awareness and raise money for research for melanoma and pancreatic cancer, two diseases which are greatly under-funded," Jessica said.

Click here to learn how to register for the June 16 race. Registration is $25 in advance or $30 at the event. Children under 12 are $5. Registration is also available for teams.

More than 400 people have already signed up.

Each participant will receive a tote bag filled with items donated by event sponsors, including sunscreen and a moisture-wicking T-shirt.

The event will include a broadcast by Froggy Radio, refreshments provided by , FUZE beverages, Auntie Anne's pretzels, Samantha Stone Catering and Bruster's ice cream, along with prizes, giveaways and face painting by PaintOh! Pittsburgh.

American Idol finalist and Washington County native will sing the national anthem.

Local nurses will be on hand to provide free skin checks along with tips for melanoma prevention.

Jessica Rogowicz, of the South Hills, is also co-directing the event.

Event sponsors include: WPXI, GNC, Songer Steel Services, Mt. Lebanon Dermatology, Bella Diamond, Brooks Diamonds, Pittsburgh Pirates, Comcast, Pittsburgh Trophy Company, Matz Chiropractic, Great Lakes Behavioral Research Institute and Ross Staffing Solutions.

Has melanoma affected you and your family? Share your experiences in the comments below.

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