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Nancy Corbitt, left, and her daugther Ashley Loftice are oncology nurses at the University of Maryland Greenebaum Comprehensive Cancer Center, and will be walking in the 2017 Maryland Half Marathon and 5K on May 13 to raise funds for the center.
Nancy Corbitt, left, and her daugther Ashley Loftice are oncology nurses at the University of Maryland Greenebaum Comprehensive Cancer Center, and will be walking in the 2017 Maryland Half Marathon and 5K on May 13 to raise funds for the center. (Courtesy photo)

For Nancy Corbitt and her daughter Ashley Loftice, of Eldersburg, oncology nursing is something of a family business. Corbitt has been working with cancer patients at the University of Maryland Greenebaum Comprehensive Cancer Center since she graduated from nursing school in 1986.

"It's one of the worst times in their lives," Corbitt said. "If I am there to cheer them up, to make them feel better, to provide them good care, then that's what nursing is all about in my opinion. That's why I have stayed as a bedside nurse for 30 years."

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Two years ago, Loftice followed in her mother's footsteps, joining the cancer center after working at a private practice. Corbitt cares for leukemia and lymphoma patients during in-patient chemotherapy, and Loftice works in out-patient chemotherapy, so they often care for the same people.

"She's always like, 'When you go out-patient, my daughter is going to be there,'" Loftice said. "People will be like, 'I'm looking for Ashley!' and I'm, "Yes, I'm Nancy's daughter.' It's pretty cool."

On Saturday, May 13, the mother-daughter pair will take their efforts on behalf of patients to a new level, participating for the first time in the Maryland Half Marathon and 5K, which raises funds for the cancer center.

"It's funny because I had participated as a volunteer in the race, and I always donated, but I never did the fundraising," Corbitt said. "I think having Ashley there, especially since she is such a good fundraiser — it's like God, I have to beat her!"

As of Saturday, Corbitt had raised $1,150, according to her personal fundraising page on the uomms.convio.net site. Loftice had raised $2,600, according to hers. The two nurses are also embedded in separate teams, Corbitt on the in-patient infusion team and Loftice raising money for the out-patient team.

"It just spiraled into this huge competition, which is really fun," Loftice said, tongue in cheek. "I worked those patients and their family members. I'm like, all this money is going back to you guys, you better donate to me!"

"Maybe next year we can have a mother daughter team versus being on opposite teams," Corbitt added.

But a little competition can be a good thing. All of the proceeds and donations from the race go toward the cancer center, which is exactly how the Maryland Half Marathon founders, Jon Sevel and Mike Greenebaum, planned it.

"If you go and ask somebody for a $5,000 donation, that's a pretty hard pill to swallow. But if you ask 500 people for $10, it's a lot easier," Sevel said. "Our major sponsors that we go after cover all of our expenses of the race. And by doing individual fundraising, where each individual gets their own page, and they go after the grassroots kind of fundraising, all that money then, dollar for dollar, can go to the cancer center."

Cancer is an issue near and dear to the hearts of both race founders. The Greenebaum Cancer Center is named for Greenebaum's parents, Sevel said, and just about everyone has been touched by cancer in some way.

"It used to be there were two to three degrees of separation to someone you knew who had cancer," Sevel said. "Right now there are zero degrees. There is not anyone you can walk up to in the street and ask who doesn't have some connection, be it through family or friends, to cancer."

Sevel and Greenebaum started the race in 2009 after they missed the deadline for the Frederick Half Marathon, which had fundraising component for the cancer center as well.

"We decided to run our own little half marathon with about 10 of our friends. We asked everybody to donate $100 or whatever to the cancer center," Sevel said. "At about mile 10 of that race, Mike and I were just thinking, you know, we should just do this big. We should just come out next year with a big half-marathon."

Almost a decade later and the Maryland Half Marathon has raised more than $3 million for the cancer center. This year, Sevel said, they appear on target for about $500,000 and around 1,500 runners and walkers.

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And there's still time for people to get involved. Sevel said people can still register to run online at uomms.convio.net/site/TR?fr_id=1100&pg=entry or in person at the morning of the race, and can make donations to teams or walkers and runners online as well.

Both Loftice and Corbitt would certainly love to get some last-minute donations, but even moral support is extremely welcome.

"We would love for them to also come to the race," Loftice said. "Even if they can't donate for any reason, just coming and showing support is really important to us too."

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If you go

What: 2017 Maryland Half Marathon and 5K to benefit the Greenebaum Comprehensive Cancer Center

When: Half marathon starts 8 a.m., 5K at 8:30 a.m. and kids race at 8:45 a.m. Saturday, May 13

Where: 8161 Maple Lawn Blvd., Fulton

Cost: Half marathon is $75 until race day, $90 day of; 5K is $40; kids fun run is $20

To register or donate, go to www.mdhalfmarathon.com. To donate to Nancy Corbitt or Ashley Loftice, click on "support a runner" and search for their name.



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