Walk Ahead for a Brain Tumor Cure Soars Beyond Expectations

Event Co-Chair Wally Pagan and his wife, Teri. Photo by Cindy Starr/Mayfield Clinic.

This Sunday’s inaugural Walk Ahead for a Brain Tumor Cure, whose leaders were hoping to attract 200 walkers and raise $40,000 in donations, is exceeding their wildest dreams, with 1,088 registered for the 5k walk/run as of Friday morning and more than $128,000 raised for the Brain Tumor Center at the UC Gardner Neuroscience Institute.

Was it the charmed date — 10/10/10? Was it the passion of the team? Was it the determination of the Brain Tumor Center’s survivors and Community Advisory Board members? Was it the fact that an aching void was just waiting to be filled? Was it all of the above?

“It was the passion and perseverance of our Community Advisory Board members and the UC Brain Tumor Center staff that helped us soar past our initial expectations,” said Ronald Warnick, MD, Director of the Brain Tumor Center and Chairman of the Mayfield Clinic.

“I think it is the aching void,” said Kathy Beechem, Chair of the Center’s Community Advisory Board. “Anyone whose life has been touched by brain tumors has an intense reaction. Perhaps it is the threat to one’s life or another’s life — or the hopelessness of no cure — but people want to make a difference and are willing to rally around the issue with their time and resources.”

“I think the event’s success reflects a desire to help a large, determined and highly motivated family of friends who are the bravest and most optimistic people I have ever known,” said John M. Tew, MD, Clinical Director of UCNI and a neurosurgeon with the UC Brain Tumor Center. “Their strength and courage are a constant source of encouragement for all who are touched by brain tumors.”

But perhaps no one explains it better than Wally Pagan, a brain tumor survivor who has endured four surgeries. Mr. Pagan typed out his thoughts Wally-style, with one finger and in capital letters, because his right hand is paralyzed.

“SPEAKING JUST FOR MYSELF……….THE WALK/RUN SUCCEEDED BECAUSE OF THE PASSION OF THE CAREGIVERS, THE SURVIVORS AND A GREAT COMMITTEE MOVING THE WALK TO A GALLOP — AND THEN SPRINT — FOR 10/10/10.  IT HAS GROWN QUICKLY DURING THE PAST MONTH. “EXCITEMENT HAS BUILT FROM A 200-PERSON WALK TO MORE THAN 1000 PARTICIPANTS BECAUSE WE HAVE  ENCOURAGED OUR FRIENDS, NEIGHBORS, AND CORPORATIONS TO BECOME AWARE OF HOW OFTEN BRAIN TUMORS AFFECT PEOPLE WE KNOW AND LOVE.”

“I certainly agree with everything that Wally said,” said Sandy Hempel, a brain tumor survivor who is a mother of two. “I am so excited about the walk, the weather, the music, everything we have been working on. I can’t wait for Sunday!”

The 5k walk/run will begin at 10 a.m. on 10/10/10 at the World Peace Bell at Fourth and York in Newport, Ky. The route will take walkers and runners past Newport on the Levy restaurants, across the Purple People Bridge, and ultimately to Yeatman’s Cove on the Cincinnati Riverfront. The route is wheelchair-accessible and includes two water stations. A celebration following the walk/run will feature music and refreshments.

Same-day registration, which begins at 8:30 a.m. Sunday, is $25, with no charge for children under 12.  The event is chaired by Wally Pagan and fellow survivor Christopher Knueven.

Silver sponsors are Miller-Valentine Group, the Carol Ann and Ralph V. Haile USBank Foundation, Fund Evaluation Group and Mayfield Clinic.

Additional sponsors are Kroger, Taft, Stettinius, and Hollister, LLP, The Alliance Academy of Cincinnati, Humana, PNC, Brower Insurance Company, Trauth Dairy, LLC, and Southbank Partners. Children’s sponsor is Ronald Warnick, MD.

Members of the organizing team, from left: Kathy Beechem, Brian Wiles, Sandy Hempel, Collin June and Event Co-Chair Chris Knueven

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