At this year’s Running of the Bulls at San Fermin — New Orleans’ own playful twist on Spain’s harrowing cattle chase — the traditional sea of red and white will be notably accented in pink.
“The day after last year’s event, my wife went in to see the doctor about a lump on her breast,” said Mickey Hanning, whose wife, Beth, was one of the co-founders of the Running of the Bulls at San Fermin in Nueva Orleans in 2007. “She was diagnosed with breast cancer soon after.”
After eight rounds of chemotherapy, a double mastectomy and 28 days of radiation, Beth Hanning completed her treatment in April.
“My doctor says there’s always the chance the cancer could come back, but it won’t,” she said. “I consider myself done with this.”
The Hannings say they also consider themselves fortunate in many ways, not least of which is the fact that Mickey Hanning happened to sign up for a supplemental cancer policy through his work as a wholesale wine distributor. That policy helped cover the costs that weren’t covered under their health insurance.
“We were so lucky, but there are so many others that aren’t,” Beth Hanning said.
That was the motivating factor behind the formation of Beth’s Friends Forever, or BFF, a charity created early this year by Mickey Hanning and his friend Scott Galante to offer women in the Greater New Orleans area fighting breast cancer whatever financial support they may need.
“There are a lot of charities that raise money for breast cancer research,” said Ronald Buras, president of BFF. “So we thought we’d do something a little different and focus on the needs of the individuals going through this horrible disease.”
Beth’s Friends Forever, along with Animal Rescue of New Orleans, will receive proceeds from this year’s Running of the Bulls — the charity’s first fundraising event.
“We’ll be there in full force,” Buras said. “All the roller derby girls will have a shirt with our logo on it; we’ll be sponsoring the entertainment during the run, handing out fliers and hosting a table with information.”
With approximately 3,400 registered runners, and another 10,000 to 15,000 unregistered runners last year, this year’s Running of the Bulls promises to bring a lot of awareness to the new charity.
“We’ve got runners registered so far from 35 states and four different countries,” Mickey Hanning said. “And then there’s the 264 roller derby girls so far from 16 states, plus three from Canada.”
For Beth Hanning, seeing all the logos and the pink this year likely will lend an emotional element to the day.
“I’m more of a behind-the-scenes person than someone who likes to be the center of attention,” she said, noting that she will be staffing the information table during the run. “In fact, I’m probably blushing right now as I talk to you. The thing is, everyone’s journey with this disease is different. We’re just here trying to do anything we can to help.”