Anchor of Hope 5K continues in virtual capacity

Steve Norvitch is shown with wife, Sherry. Norvitch, a longtime local business owner and Mountain Iron firefighter was diagnosed with stage 4 pancreatic cancer last year. This year's Anchor of Hope 5K, set for today, will raise funds for Norvitch and area orgnizations that assist families dealing with cancer. The event will be held as a "virtual" 5K. Participants can run when and where they want. Donations will be collected through the end of the month.

MOUNTAIN IRON — The original plan for this year’s Anchor of Hope 5K had been for runners and walkers to pass by Steve Norvitch’s house during the fundraising event in his honor.

But due to COVID-19, the 2nd annual Anchor of Hope 5K was adjusted to a virtual run/walk.

Participants can still register for today’s event at rangerunners.org. Those who want to run or walk are encouraged to “start and end where and when you want.”

Norvitch and his wife of 40 years, Sherry, will share proceeds with Care Partners, based in Eveleth, and the Angel Fund, of Hibbing, both of which assist Iron Range individuals who are battling cancer.

Last July, Norvitch was diagnosed with stage 4 pancreatic cancer and has been undergoing palliative chemotherapy.

Norvitch was a City of Mountain Iron firefighter for more than 22 years, serving as assistant fire chief for 19 of those years, and was an instructor for Advanced Minnesota in the fire training program from 2012 to 2018.

The father of three and grandfather of three also worked in the family business, Norvitch Automotive & Tire, of Virginia, becoming a co-owner for more than 40 years.

Packet pickup will be from 9 to 11 a.m. today in front of the Mountain Iron Public Library. Registration includes a bib with chip timing.

Last year’s inaugural Anchor of Hope 5K, held in Aurora, honored Christi (Seppi) Sickel, who taught special education at Mesabi East for 20 years was diagnosed with an aggressive form of breast cancer in April 2018. She completed surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation, and is now “doing well,” she said by phone.

In fact, she has been helping with this year’s Anchor of Hope.

“The outpouring of love and support was a blessing to my family,” she said. So much so, she wanted to “pass that baton … to pass the blessing on and share that hope,” Sickel said. “It’s an honor to be able to do that. Having been there, you know how dark that valley can be.”

“We saw how much hope (last year’s 5K) fostered in the community in Aurora and decided to do it again this year,” said organizer Carol Haasl.

Anchor of Hope was named for the Bible passage, Hebrews 6:19 — “We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure,” she said.

During this time of the virus pandemic, hope is especially needed, Haasl added. “Everybody needs hope pressing forward.”

Haasl said the Norvitch family wanted to give back by donating funds to local cancer organizations.

Their family has been touched by cancer previously. Daughter, Melissa, died of breast cancer at age 33 in 2018.

Sickel said Sherry Norvitch was “a source of encouragement and support” during her battle with breast cancer.

Donations can be made during packet pickup today or through the end of the month at the Embarrass Vermilion Federal Credit Union in Aurora. Checks can be made out to Anchor of Hope, c/o Carol Haasl.

On Monday, the Mountain Iron City Council donated $150 from its charitable gambling fund toward the fundraiser, which “speaks volumes to their respect” of Norvitch, “a good, hometown guy,” business owner and longtime firefighter, said Anna Amundson, library director and special events coordinator for the City of Mountain Iron.

Plans are to hold the 5K in person next May and to continue the fundraiser each spring to benefit an individual battling cancer or a local cancer organization.

While the pandemic presented “limitations” this year’s event, it “did not put a damper on it,” Sickel said.

For more information on Anchor of Hope, contact Carol Haasl at (218) 750-7175 or Christi Sickel at christisickel@gmail.com.

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