The Early Bird Cancer Walk
Harbin Clinic, The Alzheimer’s Association and Compassionate Friends all conducted walks in Rome on Saturday to help educate others about cancer, Alzheimer’s disease and how to handle grief when a child is lost.
The Compassionate Friends began their walk at a brick wall of names of children lost to their parents near State Mutual Stadium.
“Look around,” said Sandra Stinson, one of the organizers. “You might see a few wet eyes but you will not see anyone sobbing.”
That’s because Compassionate Friends is not an organization where people come to grieve, but learn how to deal with their grief.
“It’s not to keep you in grief,” said Stinson, who lost her 18-year-old daughter in a car wreck 15 years ago. “It’s to help bring you out of the grief.”
The money raised will go to add names to the other side of the brick wall.
Less than a mile away and about an hour earlier, Nancy Lewis of Atlanta gathered with her sisters, Rebecca Leon of New Jersey and Linda Vinson of Rome, to help people remember a disease that sometimes causes those who suffer from it to forget.
Their mother, Sarah Ruth Morgan, has Alzheimer’s. Decked out in a bright orange shirt with the name “Ruthie’s Wrecker’s” Lewis said she wanted to educate people after someone told her Alzheimer’s is a disease where “people do this to themselves.”
Her 82-year-old mother raised four children in Cave Spring, Lewis said, and was “like the mom to everybody.”
Those who walked in the Early Bird Cancer Walk were the first to hit the pavement, walking five miles to raise funds for Cancer Navigators, which helps cancer patients and their families through treatment and recovery, and Summit Quest, which provides adventure therapy and mentoring for the children of cancer patients and their families.
Rome folk artist Ken “Blacktop” Gentle signed shirts that displayed his artwork, a whimsical variation on a theme he uses often in his work — blackbirds. Gentle’s grandmother and her sister are cancer survivors, he said.
“All of the Early Bird Cancer Walkers seemed to enjoy the beautiful morning stroll along the riverfront,” said Charlotte Atkins, Cancer Navigators executive director. “We are so grateful to all the folks who walked to help local cancer patients and their families on what can be a very challenging journey. Our heartfelt thanks to Janice and Jody and the Harbin cancer center team who put on a wonderful event on our behalf.”