Community walks to fund cancer support

Emma BoltzC, Continuity Editor

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Step-by-step, hop-by-hop, friends and family gather to run a 5k, 10k, or one mile walk. The energy radiates through the crowd as the nerves set in before the race. Painted faces smile with the hopes of a medal in sight. Many thoughts run through the minds of the competitors, but everyone shares one motive for the race–giving back to families struggling with lymphoma and leukemia.

The Harlukowicz family started the non-profit Kimberly Walton Foundation in 2012 after a family member, Kimberly Walton, passed away from cancer. The twelve-person crew has organized the Hop for Hope race for the past eight years in hopes of giving back to families who suffer the same things they did. Michelle Harlukowicz, sister of Kimberly Walton, commented on how they help families going through these hardships.

“We help families with everything such as car payments, bills, food and medical bills.  Kim was my sister, and we just want to help families that are going through the pain that we went through, ” Harlukowicz said.

Michelle described the main event, the Hop for Hope, and explained how the community joins the fun.

“Hop for Hope is a 5K/10K race and 1 mile fun walk where many families can come and enjoy the festivities, such as an egg hunt that we do for little kids. We have hundreds of people register to run, and even more come to support,” Michelle said.

Michelle’s daughters, Emma and Avery Harlukowicz, share a passion for this foundation. The girls commented that the foundation has raised about $10,000 at every event and hopes to raise more in the future.

Emma spoke on her feelings towards giving back to others, even though the preparation for the race causes a hectic atmosphere.

“It is the best feeling in the world; even though the entire week of the race is very stressful and crazy, it all pays off. Seeing the joy that we bring to people and how it affects them in a positive way makes us feel amazing,” Emma said.

Avery also commented on her appreciation for the non-profit nature of the foundation.

“We are 100% non-profit, so that means every penny we raise goes to those who need it, and that is an awesome feeling,” Avery said.

Emma said that they currently host only Hop for Hope because of their love for the race, but there may start new projects in the future. The race took place on April 7, and Avery noted that the foundation is always looking for new volunteers or participants.

The crowd gets ready to run their race, excitement pulsing through the cluster of bodies at the start line. Everyone wants to win, but not to gloat or show off; they hope to win in the name of fighting against cancer and spreading awareness. As the timer shouts,  legs move as fast as possible, ready to beat cancer one race, one hop at a time.

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