Brenda Webber, Senior Manager for the American Cancer Society, talks Hop to Hop
For the past two years, rain or shine, hundreds of participants have gathered in the streets for Hop to Hop – a 10K walk/run, benefitting the Eugene/Springfield Chapter of the American Cancer Society. But this is no ordinary walk/run. This 10K includes costumes, beer, BBQ and even a pit stop at The Cooler along the course. It is one of the most fun events we host each year and we want to share the meaning behind Hop to Hop. We sat down with Brenda Webber, Senior Manager for the American Cancer Society and Hop to Hop enthusiast. During the course of our conversation, which has been edited and condensed for clarity, we got the scoop on Hop to Hop from the perspective of our local American Cancer Society.
From your perspective, give us a little history on Hop to Hop. How did the relationship begin between Hop Valley and the American Cancer Society?
Two years ago, Jim Henslee [Hop Valley partner] called our office saying they wanted to do a little run to benefit breast cancer. He invited us to a meeting at the Gateway Hop Valley, and my co-worker, Kristen Salladay, and I flooded him with ideas that he loved. I don’t think he had any idea what it was about to turn in to. With his enthusiasm and experience and all of our ideas and support, we really ignited the flame.
Describe your first experience at Hop to Hop. How does the first Hop to Hop compare to last year’s experience?
The first year was some careful trial. I think Jim was cautious about not letting things get too big and out of hand unless we knew we could handle it and he was so right. We only had a few weeks to plan it so we weren’t sure what kind of momentum we would get. Last year was even more amazing. We had more sponsors and had double the participants as the year before. This time, we started at the Gateway Hop Valley and ran towards the Eugene location. The spirit was alive with music pumping and the adrenaline of people ready to go. Many of them ran and many walked, some even dressed up in costume. It is truly an event for everybody. At the finish line, the Tasting Room was bustling with a live band, a BBQ and hundreds of happy, flushed and proud faces!
Do you have any guesses on why Hop to Hop has grown in its attendance over the years?
Yes! Hop to Hop is such a unique experience that provides so much so the participants. It has become one of my favorite days of the year. Each person leaves with the memories of an exhilarating day and the pride that they’ve fought cancer with the #1 private funder of cancer research in the world.
What do you think the outcome will be like this year?
It looks like we might cap out at our 1,000 person max! It will be a cozy, crisp day of drinking beer and celebrating a triumphant run/walk, all while having fought for a loved one touched by cancer.
What is your favorite part about Hop to Hop?
It’s truly the perfect combination of having a fulfilling experience, raising much-needed money for cancer research in Oregon, and working with wonderful people who are doing it for the right reasons.
Describe the experience of Hop to Hop and how it differs from a Relay for Life race.
Relay for Life is a huge community event where people fundraise all year long in a variety of ways, then we meet on the track every July to celebrate our success. We camp out and walk the track all night long in solidarity because cancer does not sleep and, for one night, neither do we. Hop to Hop brings in a group of people who want to fund our mission, take a beautiful stroll on a fall day and to possibly have a few beers while they’re at it. It’s a totally different demographic of people who want to join our fight, in a way that’s fulfilling and fun to them.
What is the most successful or inspiring story you’ve heard from a participant/participants of Hop to Hop?
Many people at Hop to Hop were either currently fighting cancer or deliberately taking part in it because they were supporting somebody who was in the fight of their lives. Or, of course, in memory of somebody they had lost. You wouldn’t necessarily be able to tell the depth of the reasons why people were there, judging by the energy of the day.
Describe how you see the relationship between Hop Valley and the American Cancer Society as a whole.
The owners and employees are sincerely putting on this event because they want to fight cancer and they know that the American Cancer Society funds lifesaving services all across Oregon.When you combine smart business, genuine passion and lots of supporters with an organization that has such an effective way of fighting cancer from all angles, you get an efficient blend of working together to save the most lives, the fastest.
What is your favorite Hop Valley beer?
CITRUS MISTRESS! One time I was at a place that didn’t have any Hop Valley beer at all and I couldn’t believe it. I said, “I can’t work in these conditions!”