As an administrative assistant at Shore Memorial Hospital in Somers Point, Vanessa Herold is surrounded by doctors and nurses who save lives. So Herold thought she would try to do the same despite lacking the same medical expertise.
The 41-year-old Mays Landing resident decided to participate in October's Susan G. Komen 3-Day for the Cure walk, a 60-mile event that raises money toward global breast cancer research, support, education and screenings.
Herold was motivated by two people who have battled cancer: her husband's niece, Jenna Cook, 38, of Egg Harbor Township, and a coworker. After Cook's sister, Brenda Rzemyk, 33, also of Egg Harbor Township, decided to organize a team, Herold decided to sign up.
She started training in the spring, walking as many as 20 miles per day. She also raised more than $2,300 for the charity, fundraising being a requirement for everyone who takes part in the walk. Herold said all of the hard work is worthwhile.
"It's an exhausting thing. The last day of the walk, you are ready to go home," said Herold, who dropped 35 pounds since beginning her training. "I just kept telling myself I would finish because it was for such a good cause."
Herold was not the only Shore Memorial employee who participated. Seaville's Colleen Super, 45, a maternity nurse, walked in the event for the fifth time.
"Sixty miles is a lot, but it's empowering," she said. "It's an amazing experience."
Bringing the fight to N.J.
Stafford Township's Ashley Kark watched her uncle John Kark battle various types of cancer throughout his life. Now, she wants to help others battle it, too.
The 22-year-old sales and marketing coordinator for a pharmaceutical supply company always enjoyed her uncle's visits to New Jersey from Chicago. She also admired his fun-loving spirit, which his illness did not diminish.
When John visited the Karks last Thanksgiving, things were looking positive regarding his cancer treatments. Less than six months later, he died, a month after his 40th birthday.
In 2008, John Kark started the Chicago Fight Club, a charity that helped children with cancer. After his death, the charity's name was changed to the John Kark Cancer Fight Club, and Ashley and her brother Brad, 19, decided to get involved.
Since John Kark's death, the charity has raised more than $20,000, and Ashley Kark wants to keep her uncle's legacy alive by helping the charity spread beyond Chicago. Her first attempt was a Halloween toy drive that surpassed her expectations. The toys were distributed to pediatric cancer patients in two New Jersey hospitals
"John always defeated the medical odds," Ashley Kark said about her uncle. "They weren't sure how he was conscious, never mind alive some of the time. I think he would be thrilled that we are helping children in New Jersey. Everyone who knew John won't forget him. But it's great to introduce John and what he was about to people who never knew him."
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