Walking is something that comes naturally. But walking with a purpose - especially for the family of Kathy Harris - can be inspirational and life-changing.
In 2005, at 56, Harris was diagnosed with stage III ovarian cancer. Her daughter, Jennifer Tiedt, sought an event benefiting ovarian cancer research and found the Sprint for Life 5K Walk/Run, which supports the Blanton-Davis Ovarian Cancer Research Program at MD Anderson.
"While there were many events for breast cancer, our mission was to increase awareness of ovarian cancer, 'the forgotten cancer'," says Tiedt. "Spring for Life gave us that opportunity."
The family assembled a Sprint for Life team, "Kathy's Kougars," in 2008, raising $16,000. As younger participants joined in, they later added "& Kittens" to their name. Their motto, "Hear Us Roar," let Harris know they were behind her all the way.
After two years, she expressed a wish, which seemed out of reach at the time, that Kougars raise $100,000. That wish inspired the team to continue the effort as a memorial to her.
Though Harris died in 2010, her family carries on in her memory. Over the years, the team inched toward her goal, mostly through donations of $125 and less. By the end of 2015, the goal appeared within reach as they raised $91,450.
And reach it they did, raising $12,000 to put them over $100,000.
"So many people stop doing Sprint for Life after the person they've sponsored passes away," says Pete Dickinson, Harris' father. "My hope is to inspire people to make a living memorial and continue their teams."
The 20th annual Sprint for Life is Saturday, May 6. Learn more at mdanderson.org/sprintforlife.