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County residents walk, run to raise support for children with cancer

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St. Lawrence County residents and natives have been walking and running all September to raise the profile and spread word of National Childhood Cancer Awareness Month.

A new initiative from the Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation, Wynnewood, Pa., called the Million Mile Run challenged people from across the country to support children with cancer and their families by walking or running on their own in their own towns to reach the collective goal of one million miles.

“The donation here really is not monetary,” said Gillian I. Kocher, public relations specialist for the foundation. “Hopefully someday it will be as recognized as some of the other months that represent causes.”

The nonprofit foundation began in 2000, three years after 1-year-old Alexandra Scott, Manchester, Conn., was diagnosed with cancer.

At age 4, and after three years of battling neuroblastoma, Alex told her parents she wanted to have a lemonade stand to raise money for other children with cancer.

Alex raised $2,000 with her first lemonade stand, held several more over the course of four years and inspired people from all over the country to hold their own lemonade stands to raise money for children with cancer.

Before she died in 2004 at the age of eight, Alex and her supporters raised more than $1 million.

After her death, Alex’s parents carried on her inspiring story by founding the Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation. The organization has raised $60 million and holds 6,000 lemonade stands around the country each year.

This year, the foundation’s new September initiative has 5,000 walkers and runners across the country participating and is inspiring families and friends to show their support in St. Lawrence County.

“I think it’s really cool that people are willing to go that distance,” said Elizabeth M. White, a participant from Canton.

Team Ollie is the 29-member team from the area that has been walking and running to raise money for the foundation. So far, the members have walked 800 miles, which goes toward the foundation’s million-mile goal, and raised $1,500, which also goes to the foundation.

Mrs. White started Team Ollie because she wanted to do something to commemorate her son’s second year of fighting cancer.

“I came across the Million Mile Run and decided that I was going to do it,” she said. “I put it out on Facebook to see if any of my friends, relatives or whoever would be interested in running with me.”

Her son Oliver M. was diagnosed with acute lymphocytic leukemia when he was 2 years old. Mrs. White said he still has about 1 years of treatment to go.

She said that, although walking and running won’t cure cancer, it gets people talking about it.

“Pediatric cancer, especially, is kind of a taboo subject,” she said. “It’s just too dark and a lot of people would prefer not to think it exists or even talk about it. But it does exist, and just to get the concept of Childhood Cancer Awareness Month out there is good.”

Michelle C. Murray, Hannawa Falls, said she joined the team to support her friends Mrs. White and Oliver.

“For me to fit in an hourlong walk isn’t nearly as challenging as the things that they’ve gone through,” she said.

Mrs. Murray said the county always has been very supportive of children’s cancer and illness awareness initiatives.

“The whole community, such as Canton, Colton, Parishville and Potsdam areas, have been so supportive,” she said. “The Shawna’s Walk for Wishes has grown, too, with the few years they’ve done that.”

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