Belcher goes the distance for cancer

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Local woman makes 60-mile trek over 3 days in honor of aunt, mom

By Kristin Beck

If you told someone you were going to walk 60 miles over three straight days, they may raise their eyebrows. But that is exactly what Carrollton resident Brittany Belcher and thousands of other people across the country did to raise money for breast cancer research.

Belcher, 21, participated in the 2011 Susan G. Komen 3-Day for the Cure walk in Atlanta, Ga. on Oct. 21-23, one of 14 cities to host the annual event. Belcher said she was inspired to sign-up because her Aunt Lori is a breast cancer survivor and her mom, Gloria, had three cancer cells removed in February and is currently undergoing chemotherapy.

Belcher signed up for the for walk at the beginning of the year, but because of helping with Relay for Life and being busy with work and school, she did not start fundraising until June. Walk participants must raise a minimum of $2,300 by Day One of the 3-Day event. She hosted a t-shirt sale, softball tournament, poker run, raffle and bake sale. Even though it was “very challenging,” she was able to exceed the minimum amount and raised $2,800. Besides individual donations, she also received money from the Sons of the Legion, M&M Towing and Bakers Auto Salvage.

When the big weekend arrived, Belcher and her mom and brother, Blake, traveled down to Atlanta. Since she was not walking with a team, she joined up with two other solo walkers. “It was a very challenging experience,” she said. “It was exhausting emotionally; it was overwhelming.”

Belcher said she met a lot of nice people and has five new friends from Indiana and Georgia that she has talked to almost every day since the walk. “It was a lot more emotional than I thought,” she said. “You make friends for a lifetime.”

Belcher said there were two favorite moments from the walk that really stuck out. The first was watching an elderly couple walking in front of her. The husband pushed his wife, who was a breast cancer survivor, all 60 miles in her wheelchair. The second moment was seeing another solo walker who met his wife, a five-year cancer survivor, at the finish line. She was carrying a sign that read ‘He walked for me,’ and they crossed the finish line together.

Belcher said seeing all of the survivors at the event made the entire experience well worth it. “Seeing someone going through chemo and knowing that they are fighting for their life, it takes away the pain that you have,” she said.

On the last day of the walk, she and the other solo walkers were rounding a corner and kind of dragging through the last few miles when they saw a lady, who was going through chemo, walking in front of them. She was carrying a sign that simply said, ‘Thank you.’

“It was like we new feet,” Belcher said. “We knew we weren’t going to stop after seeing that. … It was something you had to be there to experience. It was an emotional weekend.”

Belcher said she and her mom, along with four friends, have already signed up for next year’s walk in November in San Diego, Calif. Their goal is to raise $2,800 a piece, and she is planning on hosting a softball tournament, poker run and golf scramble.

Belcher said she wanted to thank everyone who donated money to her for the walk. She also thanked her mom and brother, especially, for their support at the event. She said her mom took a week off from work to travel to Atlanta with her, and her brother “would blow (her) phone up on the walk” to tell her she could do it. “They were there to support me through it all.”