CENTERBURG — No one wants to hear those grim words of being diagnosed with breast cancer, but there are those who hear them. For Kim Grindle of Centerburg, it was difficult to hear those words. In April 2008, Grindle was diagnosed with breast cancer; after battling the disease, she is now cancer free.
When Grindle heard about a three-day, 60-mile walk in Cleveland in support of breast cancer research and awareness, she immediately signed up for the July 31 to Aug. 2 race. With only five months to train and raise at least $2,300 to participate, she faced a big challenge. It was then she asked her friend, Beverly Keener of Granville, to walk with her during the event. Keener was enthused to take up the cause, and they called themselves “the booby twins.”
Starting in downtown Cleveland, race day brought rain, but soon the sun came out and the race began.
“And there were people cheering you all along the way; crew members that take care of you if needed, and they would motivate you,” said Grindle.
The race route continued through Bay Village, Rocky River, West Lake, the Cleveland Metro Parks, along Lake Erie, neighborhoods and a baseball field.
At the end of the second day, Grindle was faced with another challenge, when the medical doctor informed her she wouldn’t be able to finish the race.
“I ended up getting some extreme blisters underneath my toenails and I was unable to walk the last miles,” said Grindle.
Along the way Grindle met up with Jennifer Ulery and Amy Yorde, both of Croton, who she knew from church.
“When Kim told us she wouldn’t be able to complete [the race], it was upsetting because she’s a survivor,” said Yorde.
“When Kim was red tagged because of the blisters on her feet and wasn’t allowed to walk on the third day, my heart just ached, and she was so upset,” said Keener. “I didn’t care what it took — we were getting her across that finish line.”
So the group devised a plan.
“They got together Saturday night about eight o’clock and they figured out a way to get a wheelchair delivered to the camp. We started out on Sunday morning with 16.9 miles to go,” said Grindle.
Pushing the wheelchair on uneven sidewalks and up small hills, they made it to the end of the race at Cuyahoga County Fairgrounds in Berea.
“When we just got short of the finish line we ditched the wheelchair and Kim walked across the finish line,” said Keener.
“We laughed a lot that last day, which made the day a lot easier,” said Ulery.
Keener said she was determined to achieve her goal of walking 60 miles and finishing the race along side her friend.
“I was determined to do this walk in memory of my grandmother, in honor of my aunt, and in celebration of Kim,” said Keener.
“I’m so grateful for what they did because I really wanted to finish the race and I wasn’t able to. So when they decided to do that, and I didn’t want them to hurt themselves, but they are really strong women, and they did it,” said Grindle. “This was a life-changing experience and a part of my healing process.”
Prior to the race, the women faced other challenges, in training as well as raising $2,300 each for the event.
“Honestly, [the fundraising] was intimidating at first, but people were so generous, even with this economy. That was just overwhelming to me,” said Ulery. “It was one of the most humbling experiences I have ever had but one of the most proud things I have ever done.”
After walking the first day, Ulery said she was sore, but it was the people’s support, the crew, volunteers and the environment that got her through.
“People were cheering for you all over the place. People had things set up all over the route giving you candy, food, drinks or popsicles and it was really humbling to have people cheer and high-five you for walking,” said Ulery. “I would definitely do it next year.”
Grindle agreed fundraising was difficult, but so was having the time to train. She had over 120 donations from family, friends and community members.
“I also had 60 names of people who donated to me of people they knew who had either passed away or survived breast cancer. I had the names on ribbons and attached them to my fanny pack,” said Grindle.
As a part of her fundraising, Keener drafted a letter support, then sent it out to family, friends, church members, co-workers and the local community.
“And the support just started pouring in; people were so generous, even during this tough economic time,” said Keener.
Altogether the race raised $2.3 million toward breast cancer research, treatment, prevention and education.
“I didn’t realize the magnitude of it until we were there and [learned] how much money was raised and where that money will be going,” said Yorde. “Eighty-five percent will be going to Susan G. Komen for the Cure and the other 15 percent will go to the National Philanthropic Trust Breast Cancer Fund.”