‘Miss. Girls’ – and 1 guy -prep for cancer walk

Published 5:00 am Thursday, July 17, 2008

“The Mississippi Girls” – a team that also has a token man – aretrying to make a difference in the fight against breast cancer, andthey’ve started early on both conditioning and fundraising.

“This is so important to all of us because we’re all doing itfor different reasons,” said organizer Leanne Brown McCaffery.”It’s important to everyone in so many different ways.”

The team, which includes eight women and one man, is gearing upto do a three-day, 60-mile walk in Dallas in November to raisemoney for the Susan G. Komen for the Cure Foundation and theNational Philanthropic Trust Breast Cancer Fund.

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“I’ve got three boys and hopefully I’ll have threedaughters-in-law one day,” she said. “I also have one niece, and Idon’t ever want any of them to ever have to think about breastcancer in their lives.”

But they’ve started walking early to make sure they can handleit. McCaffery, who has had Hodgkin’s disease, did the walk lastyear with this year’s team captain, Margarette Roberson, who is abreast cancer survivor. The two said the event is the mostchallenging thing they’ve ever faced … even more challenging thancancer.

“I say this all the time: Nobody wants to have cancer, it’s nofun, chemo is no fun, and being sick and tired and throwing up isno fun, but you learn so much about yourself and what you can do,as well as the people who support you,” she said. “But this isharder.”

McCaffery agreed.

“Oh yes, I’ve had chemo, and this is way harder than vomiting,”she said, laughing.

New team member Anna Peavey listened to their summation with aconcerned look on her face.

“This is so encouraging,” she said, smiling at her husband, Dr.Michael Peavey, who is an oncologist specializing in breastcancer.

Dr. Peavey said his motivation for being on the team issimple.

“I have to tell women that they have breast cancer all thetime,” he said. “And this is a way I can help them.”

In addition to the three days of walking 20 miles a day, thewomen said they sleep each night in a two-man pink pup tent givento them by walk organizers.

One team member was shocked to find out the race was not arelay. She had joined the team thinking each member walked a partof the way, and that the 60 miles would be divided up by the ninemembers. But she said she’s sticking with it anyway.

“It’s going to be the challenge of our lives,” said team memberAmy West.

McCaffery and Roberson said by day three of the race last year,people were walking in their slippers and socks because their feethad taken all the abuse they could take from their walkingshoes.

“Your feet are hurting, and your bones are aching,” McCafferysaid.

The team, which consists of McCaffery, Roberson, both Peaveys,West, Katrina Murray, and Jennifer Hannah, all of Brookhaven, andNicole Bailey of Clinton and Kim Townsend of Hattiesburg, hopes toraise $50,000 for the event. Each team member has to raise $2,200each.

One fundraiser that has already been successful is theMississippi Girls T-shirts the team had specially designed byRhonda Rayborn.

The shirts show a bald woman with wigs all around her, and bearthe saying, “Mississippi Girls know hair may come and go, butfinding a cure lasts forever.” The team originally ordered 375shirts and has sold all but about eight of them.

Team members said there are 500 more on the way, and at a costof $16 each, they expect them to sell out quick.

In addition, the team is putting on a softball tournament onAug. 30 that will involve a men’s, women’s and coed bracket.Meanwhile, armbands will be available for $10 so children can takepart in inflatable games, races, refreshments, and otherentertainment and be supervised throughout the day while theirparents play softball.

“We could really use volunteers to help with that,” Robersonsaid, adding that people who need community service hours canactually count their volunteering with this cause since the SusanG. Komen Foundation funds free mammograms at King’s DaughtersMedical Center.

Anyone interested in learning more, or wishing to donate, isurged to visit www.the3day.org, or to call McCaffery at(601)757-1499, or Roberson at (601)695-3392.