As the date approaches for the 15th-annual Sherry’s Run 5K Run-Walk in Lebanon, Immanuel Baptist Church will hold a community rally Sunday for the cancer patient community assistance program.
The rally will be Sunday at 6 p.m. in the Life Center at the church at 214 Castle Heights Ave. in Lebanon.
“We wanted to cast a spotlight on Sherry’s Run,” said Immanuel Pastor John Hunn. “This group has done so much in our community, and we just wanted to show our gratitude and encourage as many people as possible to participate.”
Hunn said the church members wanted to create a way to show their appreciation for Sherry’s Run and its work in the community, as well as Gary Whitaker who, among others, started the nonprofit organization.
“Gary Whitaker is an inspiration to a lot of people,” Hunn said. “To be able to create such a positive and worthwhile organization in honor of his wife who lost her life to cancer is a really wonderful thing and speaks volumes about him and his character.”
In February 2003, Sherry Patterson Whitaker began to experience discomfort in her side. With no real sense of urgency, she visited a nurse practitioner several weeks later at the encouragement of a friend. She was hospitalized immediately. A few days later, the diagnosis was made. She had a deadly form of colon cancer known as adenocarcenoma.
Sherry and her husband, Gary Whitaker, discussed their options with physicians, and she began an aggressive treatment plan that included surgery and three rounds of chemotherapy. She would not listen to the discouraging reports and trusted her husband to make the decisions surrounding her treatment. In spite of valiant efforts and a positive outlook, Sherry Whitaker lost her battle May 12, 2004. Her battle lasted 12 months and 12 days.
There was an outpouring of love and appreciation by those who knew Sherry Whitaker. A few weeks after her death, a close friend, Tamara Lampsa, approached Gary Whitaker with an idea about honoring her friend that could also help fight the deadly disease that took her life. He talked the idea over with the Whitakers’ two sons, Tyler and Matthew, and Sherry’s parents, Carney and Faye Patterson. That evening, he ran into another friend, Tonyia Watson, who immediately asked to help. The group’s desire to take action led to a 5K run-walk to benefit the research and treatment of colon cancer, and Sherry’s Run was born.
Last year alone, Sherry’s Run helped 219 families with $258,883 in total assistance. It kept the electricity and water on for 96 families, helped 44 families stay in their homes, relieved the burden of medical expenses for 76 families, put food on the table for 115 families and prevented colon cancer through the distribution of hundreds of colon cancer screening kits.
Registration is open at sherrysrun.org for the 15th-annual Sherry’s Run 5K Run-Walk on Sept. 8 at 8 a.m. at 623 W. Main St. in Lebanon.
Support allows Sherry’s Run to assist cancer patients 52 weeks a year with gas, groceries, utility bills, housing payments, prescription assistance, health insurance premiums, medical bills and colonoscopy assistance.
To learn more about Sherry’s Run, call 615-925-2592. To refer someone who might qualify for assistance, call 615-925-9932 or visit sherrysrun.org.