October 10, 2011 Facebook TwitterMore...

The real winners in the Fun Run are Hatteras cancer patients


The 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 appointments.  

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, 2001, her legacy has helped many others on the island win their fight.     

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 cancer 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 on Saturday.

“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 know.”   
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 loved ones.

 The first basket had a single dove, which Easley released in memory of those who have lost their lives to cancer.  The second 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 way home from college for the second year in a row just to support the event.”

Donna Peele is an HICF board member who has participated in the Fun Run every year.  She walks for her late husband, Shankie Peele, who died of brain cancer in January, 2003.  He was 60 years young.    

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 mom 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 had. 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 love.”

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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1st place 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)

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