Six years ago, a Medora woman organized a cancer awareness event in that small southwestern Jackson County community in memory of her mother who had died in 2004 after her breast cancer spread.
The annual HOPE Medora Goes Pink event was Saturday, and its grown way beyond what Debi Wayman imagined in the early days.
In fact, the event has grown so big that Wayman faces a problem.
“We need more volunteers,” she said while talking a break from preparing some local youth who were dressing in costumes for a community walk.
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The event means something different to everyone since cancer leaves few families untouched.
For Sandra Fulcher of Washington, the event has special meeting because she recently had to deal with breast cancer and treatments.
Fulcher said a year ago some friends of her grandson, Medora High School cross country coach Blake Albrecht, asked her to walk in the 5K. Albrecht is from Washington originally but now lives in Medora.
At that time, Fulcher recently had learned she had breast cancer.
“I promised I would walk it if I could (this year),” she said. “I couldn’t do it last year. This year I’m much better.”
Fulcher said walking in a 5K was a new experience for her, but she thought she might make it halfway.
“I just finished my treatments in July of this year,” she said. Her doctor told her exercise was OK but not to overdo it. She wound up, however, completing the walk.
Fulcher said she thought HOPE Medora Goes Pink is marvelous and a really nice idea.
“There’s so many things you don’t know until you get into it (dealing with cancer),” she said. “There was so many things we hadn’t thought about when I got the cancer. There was gas back and forth for 20 chemo and 33 radiation treatments.”
Since its inception, more than $24,000 in proceeds from HOPE Medora Goes Pink has been given to people battling cancer for just such purposes in Jackson, Lawrence, Scott, Jennings, Washington and Monroe counties.
Fulcher wasn’t the only one completing the 5K.
Brady Blann, who is 10 and a half, ran it in about 26 minutes, a time he wasn’t that happy with because he said he has run some 5Ks in 24 minutes lately.
“It’s OK,” the Brownstown youth said of the run.
He said his grandfather died of esophageal cancer and that’s another reason he was there Saturday.
His mother, Amy Blann, said her son loves running in such events and always likes to encourage others by telling them “good job.” He passed out a number of those during the run.
Brenda McKain with Lawrence County Cancer Services set up shop during the health fair to talk about the kinds of services that agency offers. Those services include transportation, nutritional therapy, providing gas cards for people such as Fulcher and putting together cheer bags for people receiving cancer treatments.
“We assist anybody in Lawrence County with any type of cancer,” the Brownstown area resident said. The group, incorporated in 2004, raises funds through a car show, a holiday home tour, a garden walk and a tea party every other year.
The agency also works with HOPE Medora Goes Pink because that group helps people in Lawrence County.
“We’re all volunteers,” she said. “We have no paid staff and low administrative costs and the money stays in Lawrence County. We’re just here to get the word out.”
Wayman said she never envisioned the event growing to what it has become in six short years.
“Heavens no,” she tearfully said. “… and it touches me.”
Because the event has grown so much there’s now a shortage of volunteers, especially if it’s going to continue to grow.
“We have a lot of people but we just need more,” Wayman said.
She continues to work to put the good foundation for the event.
There has been some push for a parade from the early days of the event.
“Rhonda Freeman she is the director of HOPE has always had that dream, that hope,” Wayman said. “I do see it coming.”
This past year, the event received its 501(c)3 charitable status.
Wayman said one of the beautiful things about the event is getting to meet people.
“I met a lady at Bloomington,” Wayman said.
Wayman had just purchased a Chai tea at Starbucks and noticed a woman in a pink Mustang pulling into McDonald’s.
“I was really happy they had to pull over for french fries,” she said. “I pulled up beside them and I said “You have a pink Mustang. Here’s my card.” And they came (today).”
The woman brought her six kids and three others along with the pink Mustang to the event, and three of those kids were helping Wayman with preparations for the walk.
“They’ve became my adopted family,” she said.