Local woman walks for breast cancer research

Thursday, October 16, 2008
Janet Stover, of Cassville

Over the last four years, Janet Stover, of Cassville, has traveled across the country to participate in the 60-mile Breast Cancer Three Day walk, which benefits the Susan G Komen Foundation. She has completed three walks in San Diego, Calif., and one in Minnesota.

"I'm motivated by the people that I meet and the people here in town who want to know where the next walk is going to be and how they can support the walk," said Stover. "It really makes you feel like you are making a difference."

Around four years ago, Stover was contacted by her sister, Karen, who lives in San Diego, Calif. The previous year, Karen had participated in her local walk to support a friend who was a breast cancer survivor.

"There are five girls in our family, and she invited me and all of my sisters to walk with her," said Stover. "I was the only one who came, and we've been doing it together every since."

After participating in three walks in San Diego, Calif., the sisters decided to sign up for one of walks held in a different location. They selected the Minnesota-based walk due to its proximity to the Mall of America, which they also visited during their trip.

"We really enjoy the quality time together," said Stover. "It is a trip that we look forward to each year. We've met a lot of people and shared a lot of good times with them.

"We plan to try different walks across the country," said Stover. "It's neat to travel around and meet different people. It has made such an impact on my life that I can't imagine not doing it now."

Over the last four years, Stover and her sister have raised over $17,000 for the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation. Each walk participant is required to raise $2,200 for the event.

"I raised $2,266 this year," said Stover. "I would like to raise my goal next year. There was a girl at the last walk who raised $15,000 on her own. She was a survivor."

Stover, who works part-time at Fastrip in Cassville, completes a large percentage of her annual fundraising by selling baked goods at the local convenience store.

"I raised $800 through the bake sale this year," said Stover. "A lot of the customers in town are really supportive. Mike Carr is big on the walk and very supportive also."

Stover completes the remainder of her annual fundraising efforts by sending donation requests to friends and family members across the country.

"One thing I really like about the walk is that 97 percent of the money raised goes toward finding a cure," said Stover.

In addition to raising a large amount of money for the cancer research organization each year, the walks promote physical activity, which can help women lower their risk of acquiring breast cancer. In order to prepare walkers for the 60-mile course, participants are assigned a coach who encourages training activities.

Each participant is directed to begin training for the event at least six months prior to the walk, but Stover trains for the annual events throughout the year.

"I walk each day," said Stover. "My husband and I adopted Highway 112 (near Roaring River State Park) and we pick up the trash along the highway.

"We also paced out the roads in the park with our vehicle, and I know how many laps I need to walk," said Stover. "I try to add a mile each week. The goal is to get up to 20 miles on two back-to-back days before the event."

Stover and her husband, Smokey, also joined the Cassville Family YMCA.

"During the walk you usually walk two and a half to three miles between pit stops where you stop for water, snacks and to use the bathroom," said Stover. "You take a stretch and then walk on. On the last day, you are all pumped up from the walk and the people you have met. The third day you just whiz through."

Although the participants train for back-to-back, 20-mile walks, when the sisters participated in the Minnesota walk in September, they completed 21.5 miles on their first day, 22.7 miles on their second day and around 17 miles on their third day.

"We would start at around 7 a.m. and walk to around 2 p.m.," said Stover. "It is not a race, but you have to power walk pretty fast. During the last walk, my sister and I placed 248 and 249."

There were around 3,050 walkers in the event.

"Along the course you walk through cheering stands," said Stover. "When you go through those cheering stands, it makes you kind of weak.

"The people are there cheering you on and thanking you for what you are doing," said Stover. "Many of them are survivors. That's when you know you are making a difference."

Throughout the 60-mile walking event, all participants are required to camp, dine and recreate together in tent cities that are assembled by Boy Scouts and other volunteer organizations. This system allows participants to socialize and share stories about loss and survival.

"I have learned that it is a big world and yet small with the people you talk to and meet along the way," said Stover. "You share tears and joys with them. It is just amazing.

"I learned how rough it is for some people," said Stover. "We don't stop and realize a lot of the time with our busy schedules, but when you are together as a group, you share so many stories."

In addition to participating in the annual walks, Stover enjoys taking motorcycle rides and fishing with her husband, who supports all of her Breast Cancer Three Day walk fundraising and training efforts.

Individuals interested in learning more about the Three Day walks or supporting Stover's fundraising efforts next year can visit the organization's website at the3day.org. Past supporters are listed on Stover's participant page.

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