Celebrate Life benefits local cancer patients

I was thinking this morning that I wish I had known Jenny Meyer. But now that I think about it, I do know Jenny Meyer. I just didn’t know her when she was alive. I know her because her sister, Julie Walkington, has carried on her legacy of giving an essential and much appreciated resource to our community.

While dealing with the rigors of cancer treatment Meyer thought it would be nice to have the means to give to others what they may not receive otherwise. Her plan was to provide things to make one feel better or to pay for necessities that one might not be able to afford.

From that concept, Celebrate Life was born. The first fun run/walk event was held in 2003. Meyer passed away in 2008. Walkington has since carried on the tradition.

“My sister had an incredible vision. She told me to ‘always keep it simple.’ I am honored to be able to carry out her vision with an amazing team of volunteers.”

And amazing they are. Thanks to them, all funds raised go back into the community.

“I love how our money is raised locally, our vouchers are purchased locally and recipients are locals,” Walkington said. “Celebrate Life is a local resource, the more individuals and families you assist, the more people in the community know who you are and what you are all about.”

This year’s event is Saturday, August 13. If you haven’t registered already, you can do so on Wednesday, August 10 from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. at Bonner General Health. If you have registered already, you can pick up your t-shirt there then, too, and check out the cool merchandise that’ll be for sale. If that doesn’t work for you, you can register the day of the event starting at 8 a.m. The run/walk will start at 9 a.m. at Dog Beach.

This is a family-friendly event. The cost is minimal. Adults (17 and over) will pay only $30 and juniors (6 to 16) will pay $25. Those participants will also get a t-shirt although it may need to be ordered. But, it’s more about community than a piece of clothing. It’s about giving something special to those who feel anything but.

“The feedback is always very moving. People so appreciate the ‘simple gestures with no strings attached.’ They appreciate that it is simply a gift, no paperwork to fill out to obtain assistance – simply a gift to make the day a little brighter, the burden of a cancer diagnosis a little less. This is exactly what my sister wanted it to be,” Walkington said.

Funds go toward medication, medical equipment, grocery and restaurant vouchers, coffee and gas vouchers, massages, manicures, pedicures, housecleaning, firewood, airfare, car repairs, construction and sometimes just a monetary gift. They are distributed through BGH’s Infusions and Procedures Clinic, Home Health, Emergency Department and through Kootenai Clinic Cancer Services at BGH as well as the Bull River Clinic in Noxon and BGH Community Hospice.

The goal this year is to raise $35,000, the ability to give a cancer patient something to look forward to is priceless.

It’s not a timed race. You will run or walk across the Long Bridge and back and then hang out for the barbecue, provided by Sandpoint Furniture, afterward. It’s about community and giving.

“To hear from individuals and their families that what we are doing makes a difference is about the most rewarding feedback you can receive. To know that your organization was there to fulfill a special request or need makes those of us involved with Celebrate Life continue to work hard to provide the services we do and reach out to more individuals,” she said.

“We love that our participants are just there to celebrate the day while making a difference for those in the Sandpoint and surrounding communities affected by cancer.”

For more information go to www.celebratelifefunrunwalk.org. To make a donation, make checks payable to Bonner General Health/Celebrate Life and mail to P.O. Box 144, Ponderay, ID 83852

Kathy Hubbard is a member of Bonner General Health Foundation Advisory Council. She can be reached at 264-4029 or kathyleehubbard@yahoo.com.