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Westport Teen Leads Mob At Colorflash 5K To Fight Pediatric Cancer

Phoebe Spear wearing No. 1!
Phoebe Spear wearing No. 1! Photo Credit: Roy Fuchs
Phoebe Spear and Phriends at Sherwood Island State Park in Westport for the Colorflash.
Phoebe Spear and Phriends at Sherwood Island State Park in Westport for the Colorflash. Photo Credit: Roy Fuchs
Participants getting color flashed at Sherwood Island State Park in Westport.
Participants getting color flashed at Sherwood Island State Park in Westport. Photo Credit: Roy Fuchs
Phoebe’s mother, Ellen, and friend in the uniform of the day
Phoebe’s mother, Ellen, and friend in the uniform of the day Photo Credit: Roy Fuchs
An arch of color greets the runners at the start of the Colorflash at Sherwood Island State Park in Westport.
An arch of color greets the runners at the start of the Colorflash at Sherwood Island State Park in Westport. Photo Credit: Roy Fuchs
First Selectman Jim Marpe in the blue shirt helps warm up the crowd at the Colorflash at Sherwood Island State Park in Westport.
First Selectman Jim Marpe in the blue shirt helps warm up the crowd at the Colorflash at Sherwood Island State Park in Westport. Photo Credit: Roy Fuchs
But first, let's take a selfie ! A group celebrates at the Colorflash at Sherwood Island State Park in Westport.
But first, let's take a selfie ! A group celebrates at the Colorflash at Sherwood Island State Park in Westport. Photo Credit: Roy Fuchs
The crowd at the start of the Colorflash event at Sherwood Island State Park in Westport.
The crowd at the start of the Colorflash event at Sherwood Island State Park in Westport. Photo Credit: Roy Fuchs
Staples High School's a cappella group The Orphenians sing the National Anthem at the Colorflash at Sherwood Island State Park in Westport.
Staples High School's a cappella group The Orphenians sing the National Anthem at the Colorflash at Sherwood Island State Park in Westport. Photo Credit: Roy Fuchs
Phoebe at a Phriend at Sherwood Island State Park in Westport before the start of the Colorflash.
Phoebe at a Phriend at Sherwood Island State Park in Westport before the start of the Colorflash. Photo Credit: Roy Fuchs

WESTPORT, Conn. — Sunday morning’s Colorflash 5K Run and Walk at Sherwood Island State Park in Westport was a great success for the nearly 3,000 participants, for Phoebe Spear and Phoebe’s Phriends and for Memorial Sloan Kettering Pediatric Cancer Research.

A colorflash is an untimed walk or run with stations along the course where colored powder is gently tossed toward participants. By the time runners finish, they have been dusted with a veritable powder rainbow.

Phoebe is a Staples High School junior who was diagnosed with osteosarcoma, a bone cancer, in her right tibia as a fifth-grader. After rounds of chemotherapy, a battle with secondary secondary leukemia — statistically she was the one in 100 to contract it — and a tremendous amount of hard work, she’s cancer free, she’s back in school and she’s committed to helping other pediatric cancer patients.

“Now I’m walking … and I’m returning to a normal life,” Phoebe told Westport Sunrise Rotary a month ago.

She does so with the aid of two state-of-the-art prosthetic devices. One is an implant, a rod with a small gear box replacing her tibia, designed so that every couple of months she returns to the hospital for a noninvasive procedure to extend her leg.

The other is a device designed to enable Wounded Warriors to regain use of their legs, and was only recently made available to civilians. It uses an orthotic and a cuff at the thigh connected by two metal rods along the back of the leg to absorb the energy of foot strikes.

Not only is Phoebe now cancer free, and, with these devices, she is also fully mobile.

And she’s turned her cancer into an opportunity to help others. At Staples, she started Phoebe’s Phriends, a club that introduced her peers to making a difference.

Last year, she, her Phriends, family and their friends adopted the Colorflash event to raise money for pediatric cancer research. Starting at a party, Phoebe and her friends did what kids do — they used social media to send the idea viral.

Early planning envisioned 500 participants. It turned out that 1,700 were registered.

This year, the number nearly doubled. Phoebe’s mother, Ellen, was the producer. Altogether she recruited 300 volunteers, who made the day run smoothly.

Ellen noted that September is Pediatric Cancer month, and gold, the color of the volunteers’ shirts, is the pediatric cancer color. The tutus were added as something to give the Colorflash a unique look, and to raise additional research funding.

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