Some arrived in classic black pumps, others in strappy open-toed numbers or summer wedges.
Regardless of the differences in shoe choice, all of the approximately 350 women and men ran, walked and wobbled along Elmwood Avenue as part of the sixth annual Stiletto Run – a 0.5K race that raises money for the Ovarian Cancer National Alliance. Event organizer Matt Carlucci said it would take at least a week to determine how much money was raised.
Participants lined up at Bidwell Parkway and Elmwood Avenue about 7 p.m. Wednesday – some decked out in colorful tutus and blue knee-high socks.
But amid the bright costumes and flashy footwear, the runners didn’t lose sight of the reason they were there.
Jayliann Sgroi of Amherst walked with nine other members of her family – aunts, cousins and sisters. Each had a sign pinned on to their shirts that read, “Stepping out for our Survivor Barbara,” in honor of Sgroi’s aunt, Barbara Curto, who underwent a round of chemotherapy for ovarian cancer on Tuesday.
“It means the world that we can walk for her and for every woman that’s ever had to deal with something as horrendous as this,” said Sgroi, whose twin sister, Shawna Joyce, sported a wig dyed pink and blue.
“I’m wearing a pink and blue wig because one of my aunts had breast cancer and another one is surviving ovarian cancer,” Joyce said. “We’re here to show solidarity in our family.”
Sgroi and Joyce crossed the finish line, hip to hip, with fellow family members.
Rochester resident Angie Bracci was walking because she had battled uterine cancer in 2011, undergoing six surgeries.
“You really do start to learn more about yourself and ... what makes you happy. If I didn’t have that, I probably wouldn’t be here with these beautiful women celebrating life,” said Bracci, who was wearing a pair of 4-inch, black peep-toe heels decorated with bows.
As Bracci spoke, her friend, Shelli Watt, interjected, “I don’t think you told me you had cancer.”
“It’s not something I talk about,” Bracci said.
“All I know is that when I had my uterus removed, she was there,” Watt said, embracing her friend.
Watt and Bracci positioned themselves at the front of the starting line when the horn sounded, signifying the start of the race.
Some runners at the back of the pack pranced cautiously, content with making their way slowly and carefully along Elmwood.
Others, like repeat runner Jacob Marsh, took off with a blazing start. Marsh entered this year’s race eager to best his third-place finish at last year’s run.
He did that, claiming first place in the men’s division.
“Honestly, any research for cancer is a good cause, so why not support it?” said Marsh, who won the title in 5-inch platform stilettos.
First-place winner in the women’s division, Melina Buck of Amherst, said venturing to the Stiletto Run for the second year in a row was no-brainer, considering it combined her favorite things.
“I love to run, and I love high heels, so I feel like it was made for me,” she said.