50,000 steps toward a cure

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, February 7, 2007

Shelby County residents Judy Quick and Denise Michard fulfilled lifelong dreams during a visit to Disney World this past January.

The women joined with runners from around the world, and others from Shelby County, to compete at the Walt Disney World Marathon Jan. 7.

Quick, Michard and other Disney runners ran through Epcot, in honor of friends in order to raise funds for The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.

The women ran as part of the society&8217;s Team in Training program, which helps coach men and women to compete in endurance events such as marathons, half-marathons, triathlons and cycling events. In exchange for the professional training, coaching and encouragement, participants raise at least four times the amount of their expenses in donations to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.

Quick, a resident of Shelby Shores on Lay Lake, started training to run a marathon at 55 years old, a feat she said was a lifelong ambition. &8220;I wasn&8217;t get any younger so I had to hurry up and accomplish my goal,&8221; she said.

She knew a friend who ran with The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, and soon Quick joined with the society&8217;s Team In Training program.

Quick ran in memory of friends and family such as Tim Herring, Beth Strickland, her husband Gene&8217;s uncle, her mother-in-law Fay Quick&8217;s brother, Jay Falkner, for her friend Helen Bunn&8217;s sister, Gail Lucas.

Denise Michard, a resident of Pelham, also ran her first marathon at the Walt Disney World Marathon with Team in Training.

In 1995, Michard&8217;s father, Earl Acton, was diagnosed with leukemia. After a bone marrow transplant, her father&8217;s leukemia has been in remission for 11 years. Yet Michard said her eyes had been opened, adding &8220;Until my dad was struck with it I didn&8217;t realize it was a blood cancer.&8221;

On her 40th birthday, Michard decided to do something to help herself and others like her father. &8220;I wanted to do something to keep me in shape and help my dad in others with blood cancer. I saw that Team in Training ran the Disney Marathon and that they would be able to train me, who has never been a runner.&8221;

Months later, Michard ran in honor of her father, a friend, Carolyn Bunch, who has been in remission from leukemia for two years, and 27 other individuals.

&8220;My goal is to run for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society until one day I can fun for fun&045;because they have found a cure,&8221; Michard said. She also said her experience was so good with Team in Training that she will run with them for at least twice a year.

Coming up, Michard will race in Birmingham&8217;s Mercedes Half Marathon on Feb. 11.