Falcon gymnasts support breast cancer cure

Members of the Air Force Academy men's and women's gymnastics teams pose for a group photo at the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure in Denver Oct. 4. The teams raised more than $2,000 for breast cancer research. (U.S. Air Force photo courtesy of Athletic Communications)

Members of the Air Force Academy men's and women's gymnastics teams pose for a group photo at the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure in Denver Oct. 4. The teams raised more than $2,000 for breast cancer research. (U.S. Air Force photo courtesy of Athletic Communications)

Air Force Academy gymnasts take part in the Susan B. Komen Race for the Cure in Denver Oct. 4, 2009. The men's and women's gymnastics teams joined more than 57,000 other participants and raised $2,150 toward breast cancer research. (U.S. Air Force photo courtesy of Athletic Communications)

Air Force Academy gymnasts take part in the Susan B. Komen Race for the Cure in Denver Oct. 4, 2009. The men's and women's gymnastics teams joined more than 57,000 other participants and raised $2,150 toward breast cancer research. (U.S. Air Force photo courtesy of Athletic Communications)

U.S. AIR FORCE ACADEMY, Colo. -- The gymnasts here are used to competing against other teams, but they came together to take on a much tougher opponent Oct. 4, taking to the streets of downtown Denver to participate in the annual Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure.

Denver's Race for the Cure is one of nearly 120 such races that take place annually around the United States and in several other countries. The series of races raises significant funds and awareness for the fight against breast cancer, celebrates breast cancer survivorship, and honors those who have lost their battle with the disease.

The 23 members of the Falcons' gymnastics program were some of the 53,849 participants that took part in Denver's 17th running. The race began at Confluence Park and continued around Invesco Field at Mile High before concluding in the parking lot of the Pepsi Center. 

Junior Dan Klimkowski, who engineered the gymnasts' participation, said he saw the project as a way to promote bonding between the men's and women's teams and support a cause that affects several of the squadmembers' friends and loved ones.

"As gymnasts, we focus on bettering ourselves through every day through practice," Klimkowski said. "I thought this would be a great chance to better our community also."

"The walk was more than the men's and women's teams coming together," men's senior team captain Garrett Canter agreed. "It was a chance to make a difference in someone else's life. For a few of us, this walk was very special and close to their hearts."

In all, the Falcon racers raised $2,150 for the cause. The race was one of several community service projects that the gymnastics team volunteers with during the season. The Falcons also participate in the "Adopt A School" program, teaching gymnastics to students at Monroe Elementary School in Colorado Springs.

"My guys have gone above the call of duty once again," men's gymnastics head coach Kip Simons said. "They never cease to amaze me with their commitment to excellence both on and off the field. This is a project they took on completely on their own. To take time out of their busy schedule to raise money and walk for such a good cause makes me proud to be a part of this institution."