The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

November 11, 2012

Andra Bryan Stefanoni: Women inspired by stories as they raise money

By Andra Bryan Stefanoni
Globe Staff Writer

PITTSBURG, Kan. — My feet hurt when I’m just thinking about the 60 miles that Kathleen Stuckey, Nancy Miller and Susie Lundy pledged to walk in Dallas last weekend in support of breast cancer research.

But by golly, they did it.

Stuckey got a major blister and wore out a pair of shoes, but the women completed the Susan G. Komen three-day event and raised a combined $8,000. The money was pledged by friends and family members in the Pittsburg area, for which they were grateful, but they found it disturbing that almost every donor had some personal connection to breast cancer.

They were among 1,600 walkers who raised $4.3 million. One of the walkers was seven months pregnant. Some used walking sticks. One walked in honor of her mother, who has been battling breast cancer for seven years. Lundy told me that being among them gave her time to soul-search and appreciate how blessed she is.

One part of the walk was particularly emotional for her. She passed Baylor Medical Center, where 12 years ago, her father received a lung transplant. He died three years ago.

The walk also was grueling, with record heat in the 90s. But it was hopeful, too, the women told me, because they got to talk with others who were inspiring in some way.

There was an air of festivity, with an opening ceremony, flags and banners, and supporters along the entire route — including cancer survivors shouting “thank you” and students from an elementary school who lined a fence to wave pink bandannas.

Each night, the Pittsburg walkers were so stiff that they had trouble getting up from supper. But they are glad they did it, having found themselves changed by the experience and hopeful that they in some small way made a difference.

“It has its purpose,” Lundy said. “Not only to show hope and faith to others, but the strides made by research in the last 30 years has been worth the time and effort and fundraising.”

For now, they are going to take it slow getting back into any hard-core walking routine. And Stuckey joked that now that her training is done, she’ll have no excuse to not cook supper or clean the house.

Follow Andre Stefanoni on Facebook at facebook.com/andrajournalist and on Twitter @AndraStefanoni.