Inspired by Zero: Women Support Women in Running for a Cure 

For many people, running is an individual sport. It’s about the number of miles, the time on the board and setting personal records. For Robin Lewis, Janna Erlien and Marcia Patton, the team comradery is what draws them to the sport and what draws them together in the causes they support.  

Robin was a casual runner throughout high school and college but stopped running after having two kids and working a full-time job. When Robin approached the same age her dad was when he died from cancer, she realized she knew she needed to take better care of herself, so she started running again. Now, she and her husband, Blaine, own a Fleet Feet store in Roanoke, Virginia. 

Robin met Janna and Marcia through one of the running and walking training programs that her store hosts. Last year during a fun girls’ weekend, the women participated in “Pledge the Pink” – a three-day, 30-mile event spanning across three islands in Hilton Head, South Carolina that raises money for the women who can’t afford lifesaving mammograms and breast cancer screenings. The women grew passionate about the cause and committed to growing the group and proactively fundraising for the next year. Robin, Janna, Marcia, and 15 other women make up the Star City Tatas – a group of 18 women who will participate in “Pledge the Pink” this year.  

“Two years ago, my mother was diagnosed with breast cancer. She had a successful lumpectomy and has been cancer-free ever since,” said Robin. “We have customers who are also patients and survivors, and when you think about one in eight women, that’s a lot of women. The Star City Tatas is made up of 18 women, so potentially two of us could be diagnosed with breast cancer. It’s about bringing women together to do something active and healthy while supporting other women.” 

While Janna and Marcia didn’t initially have personal ties to the disease, a breast cancer survivor is on the team this year, and they both recognize how many women and families are affected.   

“The more we bring awareness, the more we find out [breast cancer] does affect people in our group. Not necessarily individually, but we all know somebody,” said Janna. “And just knowing if one of us happens to develop breast cancer, we’ve got a really solid group that is without a doubt going to be there one hundred percent. Because of that, we want to support an organization that’s for prevention and screening, so we don’t have to sit here and name names and have women we know go through this” 

Like Janna, Marcia’s enthusiasm towards advocating for breast cancer research and prevention did not initially stem from a personal connection to the disease. “We’re all about supporting the cause and putting an end to it because it could happen to any of us,” said Marcia. “My boss’s wife went through treatment, and another colleague’s mother just had a mastectomy. There are so many people every day. There’s somebody that we all know.” 

This year, supporters like Robin, Janna, and Marcia partnered with Mizuno for Project Zero to fight for a cure for breast cancer, turning one in eight women who will be diagnosed in her lifetime to zero in eight. 

“It’s important for us when choosing brands to work within our store that those brands give back to the communities that support them,” said Robin. “I’m excited to see a brand that I love putting their passion and their support behind a cause that I support and have been affected by individually.” 

For the second year in a row, Mizuno partnered with Fleet Feet to raise funds that benefit the Breast Cancer Research Foundation, the largest non-profit organization in the world that funds breakthrough research for breast cancer treatments and prevention. This year, Mizuno has designed a special-edition BCRF running shoe for Project Zero. Ten dollars from each shoe will go directly toward funding BCRF’s life-saving research. The running shoes, along with other inspiring stories of survivors and supporters, can be found at Fleet Feet stores nationwide or online at 

Share your story of inspiration or support using hashtag #projectzero. 

Robin Lewis, Supporter

Robin Lewis is a co-owner of Fleet Feet in Roanoke, Virginia. Robin is a wife, mother of two daughters and the daughter of a breast cancer survivor. Robin has a four-year degree from Meredith College. Prior to transitioning full-time to owning her store, she worked in the banking industry. Robin has run three marathons. Robin’s passion for breast cancers stems from her experience with supporting her mother and the breast cancer patients and survivors who are customers in her store. She is a member of the Star City Tatas, a group who met through Fleet Feet Roanoke training programs that raise funds for breast cancer awareness.


Janna Erlien, Supporter

Janna Erlien is a Physician’s Assistant for Cardiothoracic Surgery at the Carilion Clinic – the only level I trauma center in southwest Virginia. After serving five years in the Peace Corps and Crisis Corps in Namibia, Africa, she earned her degree at the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine. Janna is a dog mom to Alfie and Roxie – her two running companions, and she is a mentor for Fleet Feet’s training program. In addition to running numerous marathons and half-marathons every year, Janna has competed in four ultramarathons. She is a member of the Star City Tatas, a running group in Roanoke, Virginia that supports breast cancer awareness, research, and prevention through running competitions.


Marcia Patton, Supporter

Marcia Patton is a mom of four and a grandmother of two. She is a certified public accountant and is the accounting manager for a multistate nursing/rehabilitation company. At the age of 53, Marcia started running by participating in a Fleet Feet training program, and running has changed her life. Marcia has completed one marathon, eight half-marathons, and several 5Ks, 8Ks and 10Ks. In addition to becoming more active, Marcia attributes running to bringing her to meet lifelong friends that have supported her through the most difficult times in her life, including the death of her husband two years ago. She is a member of the Star City Tatas, a running group in Roanoke, Virginia that supports breast cancer awareness, research, and prevention through running competitions.

Published: October 2018