winners in the Fun Run are Hatteras cancer patients
location of the
Hatteras Island Cancer Foundation’s annual Fun Run was changed just
three days before the event.
The run, which had been scheduled in Salvo, was moved to Avon because
of a misunderstanding with Dare County about access to the tri-villages.
However, supporters of HICF didn’t seem to care which village they
raced in, as long as cancer patients on the island were on the winning
side of the day’s events.
The organizers relocated the Fun Run to the Sun Realty parking lot in
Avon, and the course wound through Kinnakeet Shores.
The runners and walkers took off at 10 a.m. on Saturday, Oct. 8, which
was a bright, sunny morning with temperatures in the low 70s.
According to Donna Barnett, one of HICF’s board members and event
coordinators, the island’s cancer patients were indeed the winners at
the day’s festivities.
The number of runners and walkers grew to 160 – from last year’s 152 --
and the event netted almost $8,000.
“Not bad for a little island without a road,” as Barnett put it in her
post on Facebook Saturday night.
Laney Howell, a resident of Hatteras, who was diagnosed with breast
cancer shortly after moving to the village in 1996, founded the
Hatteras Island Cancer Foundation in December, 2000. She
underwent surgery in 1997 and nearly four and a half years of
chemotherapy, radiation, and stem-cell replacement therapy thereafter.
In the midst of all this, Howell was able to experience the incredible
generosity, even toward newcomers, that often comes with living on
Hatteras Island. Her new neighbors and friends helped in any way they
could -- cooking, cleaning, and transporting her to medical
Howell founded HICF, as a way to “repay” her friends and to ensure
cancer patients on the island would have the same support she had
through her battle with cancer.
In just a few months – in March, 2001, the foundation hosted its first
HICF fundraiser, which was a very successful dance.
Yet, shortly after seeing her dream come to fruition, Howell’s cancer
came back. While she lost her fight against cancer in July,
her legacy has helped many others on the island win their
One such person is breast cancer survivor Margie Easley of Hatteras
village, who walked in the Fun Run on Saturday and celebrated five
cancer-free years in June. She may not have discovered the
if not for her mother, who scheduled a mammogram appointment for her,
after repeated failed attempts to get her daughter to go for the test.
Easley said she would jokingly respond to her mother’s urging saying,
“Mom, I’m flat-chested enough that if there were a lump in there, I
would be able to find it.”
“Looking back,” Easley said, “having my first mammogram at 52 was way
too long to wait.”
Easley’s daughter, Hali Easley, 22, walked side-by-side with her mother
“It was scary,” she said, “but I knew my mom was strong, so I wasn’t
too worried about it. She’s the strongest woman I
Both women walked to support the foundation, as HICF has tremendously
helped their family by covering for much of the past five years the
cost of Easley’s medication, which is not covered by her insurance.
The HICF has made it a tradition to release doves from three baskets
just before the start of the race, with each basket honoring a
different aspect in which cancer ultimately affects people and their
The first basket had a single dove, which Easley released in
memory of those who have lost their lives to cancer. The
basket honored those fighting cancer, and the third basket recognized
those who love and support cancer patients.
Kyle Williams, owner and director of The Munchkin Academy in Buxton,
was asked to help release the third basket.
“It was such an honor to be a part of the ceremony,” said Williams,
“but it was also emotional.”
She said she had her father in mind – he died of esophageal cancer last
year – and, like many others, she was thinking of Carey LeSieur, an
incredible nurse on Hatteras Island who lost her battle with cancer
about five years ago.
Williams’ three children -- Ben, 19, Katie, 14, and Claire, 9 -- made
it a family event by taking part in the race -- in memory of their Pop
and others they care for who have battled cancer.
“I’m very proud of them,” Williams said. “It’s exciting to see them
(participate) and know they’re doing it in memory of loved ones, not
just to race with their friends. Ben actually came all the
home from college for the second year in a row just to support the
Donna Peele is an HICF board member who has participated in the Fun Run
every year. She walks for her late husband, Shankie Peele,
died of brain cancer in January, 2003. He was 60 years
On Saturday, she wore pink in support of Breast Cancer Awareness Month,
but also sported a purple band around her wrist in support of
pancreatic cancer research, as her sister. Danni Jo, was diagnosed with
the disease last Christmas.
“She is my hero,” said Peele of her sister, “She has been on the giving
side of things her whole life, working as a social worker and helping
families adopt children. Even though she was already a single
to a teenager, she adopted another child a few years ago who had a bad
home life and needed a good home. And even now, she stays positive
saying, ‘I don’t want to change my life. I love the life I
just want to enjoy each day.’”
Perhaps Peele summed it up best when she said, “We (HICF) may be a
small group, but we are very mighty. There’s not a single one of us who
doesn’t do what we do to fight cancer because of something
personal. We’ve all been affected personally or by someone we
Keith Gray, who won first place in the men’s division for the eighth
consecutive year, can attest to that. He said he runs for his mother,
Maggie Gray, who died of lung cancer in 2007.
Angela Cothren, first-place contestant in the women’s division, said
she ran with Coach “Buck” Carney in mind.
“He was my track coach in high school and inspired me to keep running,
said Cothren, “but he was also a smoker and died of throat cancer a
few years ago.”
It’s safe to say the HICF is very mighty indeed, as the group has
raised more than $500,000 over the years, helping close to 100 Hatteras
Island families whose loved ones have had to fight cancer.
According to Barnett, the HICF Fun Run is getting larger each year and,
in order to accommodate the growing needs of the Fun Run event, the
board will vote on permanently relocating the Fun Run.
“We loved the area in Hatteras Colony, but we are expecting an even
larger crowd next year and feel we may have outgrown it.
Kinnakeet Shores seems to be a centrally located spot that will be able
to accommodate the growing crowd,” said Barnett.
Apparently the pooches on Hatteras Island caught word of the event, or
at least smelled the delicious barbecue prepared by Darrin Callahan, as
the Fun Run saw its first four-legged contestant at this year’s event.
HICF created a “doggy division” for Don Babin’s dog, Mirlo, who went
for a swim in a pond after the race, but there is no official word on
what dogs can expect next year.
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men’s division – Keith Gray of Buxton,
1st place women’s division – Angela Cothren of Buxton
1st place male child 12 and under – Cam Leggat of Rodanthe
1st place female child 12 and under - Savannah Scarborough of Buxton
2nd place men’s division – Joseph Caroppoli of Avon
2nd place women’s division – Scout Dixon of Buxton
2nd place male child 12 and under - Jonah Dixon of Buxton
2nd place female child 12 and under – Maddie Chandler of Avon
3rd place men’s division – Patrick Kasic of Waves
3rd place women’s division – Leann O’Neal of Hatteras
3rd place male child 12 and under – Evan Carbral of Buxton
3rd place female child 12 – Avery Johnson of Hatteras
1st Dog - Mirlo (Owner Don Babin of Rodanthe)