Area women go the distance for cancer research

Thursday, July 14, 2005

By Linda Redeffer

Four determined Jackson women raised more than $10,000 toward cancer research in early June, and they did it by walking 40 miles during a hailstorm.

The hailstorm wasn't part of the plan for the Avon Walk for Breast Cancer the weekend of June 4, but it did not stop Cindy Heisserer and her mother-in-law, Betty, along with Lisa Newman and Heidi Hume.

The Jackson residents were among 2,400 walkers -- mostly women -- who participated in the fund-raising walk in Chicago. All four walked the total 40 miles over the two-day marathon.

The Avon Walk for Breast Cancer is a series of weekend events taking place from April through October. Participants were required to raise a minimum of $1,800 in pledges in order to participate in the walk. Newman raised $2,280; Hume, $2,200; Cindy Heisserer, $3,650; and Betty Heisserer $1,950.

Walkers began at Soldiers Field and walked along Lakeshore Drive, and into the neighborhoods, which the women said was the most memorable segment of the walk.

"The support of the city was outrageous," Cindy Heisserer said. "Little kids were standing in front of their houses passing out Popsicles and bottles of water. People were cheering us on as we walked."

Heisserer said some families who weren't home left coolers of water for the walkers in front of their houses. Many had decorated their yards and streets with pink ribbons, and when it began to rain during the last two hours of the first day's walk, the residents handed out ponchos and offered towels.

"The rain actually felt good," Hume said. "It was a little scary when it started hailing. People started going inside, but we just kept on going."

What's a little hail when so many have suffered from cancer?

"It was just one of the best experiences of my life," Newman said. "Hearing the cancer stories and doing the walk with all the people cheering you on the whole time motivates you that much more."

Cindy Heisserer said after the walk, she took off a week from exercise and Hume admits that she has "slacked off a little bit."

Betty Heisserer said she does not normally walk for exercise, but has always worked out to stay in good condition. She said now she might try to do 10 to 15 miles a week so she can do another benefit walk perhaps next year.

Newman said she walks between 8 and 12 miles a week and prepared for the Avon walk by adding a couple of miles a week to her regimen.

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