Saturday, they will lace up their running shoes for the D-backs Race Against Cancer presented by the University of Arizona Cancer Center at St. Joseph's Hospital and the UA College of Medicine in Phoenix. The 5K run will start at 7:30 a.m. MST just outside of Chase Field.
The inaugural race will feature cancer survivors participating in the national anthem and handing out medals to participants as they cross the finish line. Proceeds from the race will benefit the Arizona Diamondbacks Foundation and will be distributed to various Arizona non-profit organizations that provide screening, treatment and support for those dealing with cancer.
The team's annual Subway D-backs FanFest, a free event, will take place after race beginning at 10 a.m. MST and going until 5 p.m.
Third-base coach Matt Williams, bench coach Alan Trammell, pitching coach Charles Nagy, first-base coach Steve Sax and bullpen coach Glenn Sherlock will take part in the 5K run, while manager Kirk Gibson will be limited to the Family Fun 1K Walk due to recent shoulder surgery.
Cancer has hit home for the D-backs over the past couple of years, especially when popular team president and CEO Derrick Hall was diagnosed with prostate cancer late during the 2011 season. Managing general partner Ken Kendrick is a longtime prostate cancer survivor.
"Some of our friends and front-office people have been affected by cancer of all kinds and this is an opportunity to do what we can to help raise a little bit of money for the research and for the fight," Williams said. "The Diamondbacks organization is ... at the forefront of finding ways to help out and give back to the community and this is just another example. I know it's hit Derrick and his family and he's a huge supporter of everybody who is fighting a battle with cancer."
Entry includes a commemorative T-shirt and a complimentary ticket to the D-backs vs. Rockies game at Chase Field on April 26.
"They have over 5,000 signed up for a first-year event which is really, really high attendance," said Dr. David Brachman, the medical director of the Radiation Oncology Department at the UA Cancer Center at St. Joseph's. "It's very helpful to have the Diamondbacks be the sponsoring agency. I've been to first-year runs for equally good causes and there were one-tenth of the attendees, so I think they are clearly throwing some muscle behind this."
While the fight against cancer still has a long way to go, Brachman said the money invested in awareness and research has paid big dividends.
"Everyone likes metrics, and a report came out recently from the American Cancer Society that showed that deaths, which is the thing we need to measure, have fallen between 20 and 30 percent in men and women with cancer," he said. "Some of that is advanced research, some is research into how to treat people more appropriately and the other piece is screening and prevention."
The D-backs are hoping to make the run an annual event, and they will continue to seek ways to raise awareness and funds to battle cancer.
"There are so many people not as fortunate as me to have either caught it or treated it successfully," Hall said. "So I feel like it's my mission now to drive awareness, spread the word and hopefully stress the importance of people being screened and tested."