By SUE SIENS
Nearly everywhere you go around town, you will likely see someone wearing a Sherry’s Run T-shirt. You have probably also noticed the many bright green bows tied on mailboxes and buildings. The attire and decorations signify the outpouring of community support for the upcoming 8th Annual Sherry’s Run. This year’s event will be held on Saturday, September 10, 2011, at Wilson Bank & Trust’s main office on West Main Street in Lebanon.
Those unaware of the event may be wondering what is Sherry’s Run, and how did it gain such widespread community support? The short answer is: it’s a 5K competitive race for runners, a walk for non-runners, a fun event for all ages, a fundraiser and a year-round organization that is positively impacting the lives of Wilson County’s cancer victims and their families.
It all started with a beautiful woman known by friends and family as Sherry, her cancer battle, and someone who was inspired to honor the life of a friend. Sharon “Sherry” Whitaker, was the wife of Gary Whitaker and loving mom of two sons, Tyler and Matthew, when she was diagnosed with a deadly form of colon cancer. Despite her courageous fight against the disease, she lost her battle at age 44, in May 2004.
Shortly after Sherry’s death, her friend Tamara Lampsa, “woke up” during the night with an idea to honor Sherry’s life, a race to raise money to help others during their cancer treatments. As Tamara explained, “It was a God-thing.” She presented the idea to Gary,
and soon the idea was embraced by another friend, Tonyia Watson, along with many others. This began Sherry’s Run, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, with a mission to benefit those affected by cancer, with an emphasis on colon cancer.
Approximately 200 volunteers and 3,800 event participants (at last year’s event) have made the success of Sherry’s Run possible. Almost everyone has been affected by cancer in some way, through the diagnosis and ensuing treatments of a friend, family member or co-worker. Sherry’s Run helps families affected by any kind of cancer that live, work, go to church, or seek treatment in Wilson County or the surrounding communities, who are actively pursuing treatment and demonstrate financial need.
The impact of Sherry’s Run is staggering. Thanks to tremendous support by individual donors and local businesses, in the short eight years since its inception, the organization has raised more than $980,000. It has given hope and help to hundreds of individuals and families during one of the most difficult times of their lives. What’s amazing is that this organization is almost solely managed by volunteers, with only one part-time employee. Sherry’s Run provides financial assistance for help with expenses related to medications, medical treatments and other needs. And just as important, the organization extends love and support to the families.
“If you know of someone who is actively seeking treatment for cancer, please contact us to see if they qualify for assistance through Sherry’s Run and to schedule a Sherry’s Run Advocate visit,” said Tonyia Watson, Board-Chair of Sherry’s Run.
Sherry’s Run actively supports the community-at-large. The organization provides education and free colon cancer test kits to anyone who requests them. This is very important, because one of the most deadly aspects of colon cancer is that it often goes undiagnosed. Like Sherry Whitaker, victims may have no obvious symptoms prior to their diagnosis. Sherry’s Run emphasizes the need of everyone to use the free colon cancer test kits, talk with their doctor and have a colonoscopy. Colon cancer is often curable, especially when caught early.
“The 2011 Run will be held in memory of Peggie Dill, Johnny Keel, and in honor of Kenny Scott,” said Sherry’s Run board member, Anna Lee Cockrill. Peggie is the late wife of Ken Dill and mother of three children. She was a gifted teacher, an encourager and thoughtful, loving friend to many. Johnny was husband to Peggy Keel, and throughout his decade-long struggle with cancer, he worked tirelessly to create awareness in the fight against cancer and encourage others to live a healthy lifestyle.
Sherry’s Run is also honoring a recent cancer patient, Kenny Scott. Kenny was diagnosed with a follicular lymphoma at age 37. His wife, Amy, and three children, have been tremendous supporters. “The first thing I had to do was surrender to God's will in my life. In turn, God placed people into my path that helped direct me to my doctor and treatment. With my family, special friends, my Maple Hill Church family and most of all God's help, I was able to face each day,” said Kenny. Following months of chemotherapy, Kenny’s prognosis now is excellent, with recent tests showing no signs of active cancer.
The official kick-off of the 2011 Sherry’s Run is at 8 a.m., but come early. The race registration will begin at 6:30 a.m., and the silent auction will open at 7 a.m. All ages are welcome to attend. The event will feature live music, a silent auction and live auction along with many fun and fabulous items including a one week trip and condo in Cabo San Lucas. There will also be a balloon release along with distribution of free colon test kits. You can show your support and “Pain the Town Green” by purchasing a green bow.
Everyone is invited to come and cheer on the racers and walkers, many of whose lives have been touched by cancer in some way. Pre-registration for the event is encouraged. For this and more information, visit the Sherry’s Run website at www.SherrysRun.org or call (615) 925-2592.