There was a loud round of applause and the sound of music as walkers neared the finish line for the 13.1 mile-walk staged Saturday in Athens as a fundraiser for the Loran Smith Cancer Center.
Michael Sandefer was all smiles as he reached the finish in the “In Their Shoes Walk.”
“This was a challenge, but I walk 6 to 7 miles a day just trying to stay active,” said Sandefer, an Oconee County resident, who was diagnosed with prostate cancer last December. His prostate was removed, but doctors found the cancer had metastasized to his hip bones. He is currently undergoing radiation treatments.
“I was able to pull it off and walk the 13 miles even with it hurting a good bit,” he said, “but I’m glad to do it to support the Loran Center.”
The walk, the major fundraiser for the Loran Smith Cancer Center, is sponsored by the Piedmont Athens Regional Foundation. This year, 124 walkers participated in the event.
The first walker to reach the finish line was Scott Carpenter, a speed walker who event officials said is the first person to complete the walk for the last three consecutive years.
Arcade Police Chief Randy Williams has participated in the walk five times.
“The Loran Smith Center helped my mother when she was diagnosed with cancer,” Williams said at the finish line. “Mother loved it over here. When she passed, I said, ‘You know they were so good to mama and us that as long as I’m healthy I’m going to give back.’ ”
Madison County resident Michelle McDaniel said she participated because her grandfather is a prostate cancer survivor.
“We’ve also had a lot of employees at my work that have survived cancer,” said McDaniel, who works at the Toyota Industries Compressor Parts America plant in Pendergrass.
Athens resident Robby Johnson said she walked because she is a breast cancer survivor, and she wanted to walk with coworkers from Piedmont Athens Regional. She was pleased with the weather.
“It went great this year,” she said.
Jefferson resident Caleb McCoy set up a table giving away copies of a book he compiled and wrote using his mother’s journals.
“Angel on Ice: A Mother’s Legacy of Trusting God’s Sovereignty” is based on the writings of his mother, who died of cancer less than four years ago.
Kia McCoy, who resided for many years in Wisconsin and was living in Jefferson at the time of her death, had kept a journal for much of her life. The son focused the book on the journals written during the last year of her life.
Kia McCoy was a professional ice skater as a young woman and would take her daughters to a frozen pond in Green Bay, where one daughter had fond memories of watching her mother skate.
The daughter coined the term “Angel on Ice” and that became the book’s title.
As McCoy shared the written word about one woman’s battle with cancer, there was music and applause as each walker neared the finish as a show of support for the Loran Smith Cancer Center.
“This facility has been good for the community,” said Sandefer, the man who took cancer across the finish line.