Sunday, July 27, 1997
Adding voice to the race
for a cure

The Cincinnati Enquirer

When I was in the eighth grade, I joined the school orchestra. So I could sit next to Tim Settlemire three times a week and he could notice how stunningly attractive I would be if he looked past my braces and glasses and flat chest.

He played the French horn, so that's what I told the music instructor I played. It was a big group, and Mr. Fields, the teacher, was kind enough not to mention that no actual sound ever came out of my horn. Even though I pumped the valves enthusiastically and puffed out my cheeks.

Unfortunately, Tim had two sides, and Mary Jane Bowersock was seated on the other one. Perfectly hateful, she had 20/20 vision, straight teeth and did not have to stuff her bra with Kleenex, if you know what I mean.

I quit the orchestra and joined the debate club, where I was hoping to sit next to Randy Jacobs on the bus trips. I was also hoping that eventually I would be using tissues only to blow my nose.

Trivial pursuit

I am sorry if this sounds superficial, but adolescent girls were only slightly less obsessed by breasts than were adolescent boys. Some of us never outgrew it. We made the Wonder Bra people fabulously wealthy, and even Jane Fonda bought new ones when hers began to sag.

These days breasts are more important than ever. They're killing us.

Which brings me to my most recent musical adventure.

Last week, a group of breast cancer survivors and our friends and families recorded the chorus for ''The Race,'' a song to be used as a fund-raiser for breast cancer research. Written by Columbus singer-songwriter Eric Gnezda, it will be sold by the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation Race for the Cure in 77 cities.

They are, of course, depending on Mr. Gnezda and the electronics at Madison Park Productions in Longworth Hall to come up with a recording somebody would buy. ''We want real people. We're not looking for fabulous voices,'' he said.

''That's fortunate,'' council member Bobbie Sterne said drily. She was there, along with fellow council member Jeanette Cissell. They're not breast cancer survivors, just our friends.

So is Ben Beal, 13, from Loveland. The youngster crowded into the recording booth with us because his friend's mom had breast cancer. Margaret Clements drove here from Willoughby to sing with her daughter. Both are survivors like me. But not singers. It didn't matter.

The dollar diva

We were each paid a dollar and told to sound happy and glad to be alive. Thrilled and grateful would be more like it. And, by the way, this is going right on my resume. I now consider myself a paid professional entertainer.

This will be shocking news for arranger and director Tom Martin, a real professional who has worked with Aaron Copland. The guy in the control booth is Rob Currens, who owns the production company. ''Good energy,'' he said. ''But you sounded a little flat.''

I know how to cure that. Next time, I lip-synch, the vocal equivalent of my silent days in the French horn section. ''That was perfect,'' Tom said.'' I'm afraid they will ask for their dollar back.

If you want to hear us - and I use the term ''us'' very loosely - the tape will be sold for $5 at the 5K race here on Sunday, Sept. 14. Or you can order one now by calling the Race Hotline at 763-5777, where you can also sign up to run or walk. I'm honorary chair, proof that you don't have to be an athlete to participate.

Thursday at 11:30 a.m. on Fountain Square a Race for the Cure video will be taped for the Lifetime Channel. Join us if you have been touched by cancer in some way. Any cancer. Any way. That pretty much includes everybody.

Seventy-five percent of money raised through all this will stay in Greater Cincinnati to fund breast cancer research, education and training programs. The remainder will go to the national Komen Foundation.

Before we left the studio, Eric asked for ''just one more'' run-through. ''This time, really sing it out. Don't be afraid. You've got plenty of backup.''

Thank you. We know that. It's what keeps us alive.

Laura Pulfer's column appears in The Enquirer on Sundays, Tuesdays and Thursdays. Call 768-8393 or fax at 768-8340. She can be heard Monday mornings on WVXU radio (91.7 FM) and as a regular commentator on National Public Radio's Morning Edition.