Six local women will be joining thousands of others in Michigan this week to raise funds and bring awareness to the fight to end breast cancer.
Brandy Hudnall, Jill Harris, Sabrina Hayman, Kendra Thompson, Corinna Barnitz, and Brandy Strobbe will be walking 60 miles in the “Susan G. Komen 3-Day.” The event will be held Aug. 2 through 4.
According to Hudnall, who serves as captain of the local team, “Boobs, Sweat and Tears,” the group raised $13,800, or $2,300 each, which was the mandatory amount to participate. They held bingo games, had spaghetti dinners, raffles, and a 5K Color Run to raise the funds.
This is Hudnall’s fourth time walking for breast cancer, having previously participated in Washington, D.C., Chicago, and Philadelphia.
Harris is walking for the third year and said she does it in the hopes that breast cancer will become something in the past, never to be spoken of again.
Hayman, who is walking for the second time, said walking the 60 miles is truly perspective changing and humbling.
“After finishing the walk last year, I knew I couldn’t not do it again,” she said. “We have to fight for a cure.”
Sisters Thompson and Barnitz have a more personal reason to join the fight.
Barnitz, who is making her inaugural walk, said, “I watched the girls last year and was so inspired, I knew I needed to join their team.”
“There are so many who are on my heart that breast cancer has touched, but there is one that is closest in my heart, my cousin Tina (Willis),” she continued. “She’s fought for so many years and is still fighting. She is so strong and stays so positive.”
Thompson, a second year participant, agreed, adding Willis was diagnosed 17 years ago and the cancer has metastasized to her lungs. She also said she walks for friends like Lisa Gardner and Heather Kearns.
“They are survivors and fighters,” Thompson emphasized. “I walk for them and so many more who are currently battling this cruel disease, and more who will sadly face that battle.”
She continued, “When I’ve been out there training for my walk and it gets tough and my feet hurt, or I’m wanting to stop, I remind myself that what I’m feeling isn’t nearly what cancer treatment feels like. Sure, I can stop walking and rest when I want to, but cancer patients don’t have that option. They are my heroes and that’s why I walk.”
All of the women praised the local community for their support.
“Our community really comes together to back us up and allows us this honor each year,” Hayman said.
“The challenge is awesome, but I love seeing the community come together to support us, cheer us on, and the feeling that they are walking with us because of their financial support and prayers,” she said.
Susan G. Komen has funded more than $988 million in research and more than $2.2 billion in education, screening and treatment since 1982. In 2016, Komen announced its “Bold Goal” to reduce the current number of breast cancer deaths by 50 percent in the United States by 2026.
The local teammates will leave for Michigan on Thursday, and Hudnall said she is already looking for additional members to join the team for next year.
Mindy Kearns is a freelance writer for Ohio Valley Publishing, email her at email@example.com.