Neighbors on Avon walk

March 10, 2000|By JANE HONIGS

Hagerstown neighbors Clara Barnes and Linda Stupelman are taking a walk together this spring, but it won't be a mere stroll around the block.

On May 5-7, they'll join the Avon Breast Cancer 3-Day, a fund-raising walk of approximately 60 miles from Hood College in Frederick, Md., to Washington, D.C.

The two walked together last spring to get some exercise. "It was very casual. We didn't do it real diligently," Stupelman said.

"Now we have a mission. There's a reason behind it," Barnes said. "It feels good to have something to shoot for."


Each happened to hear about the walk on separate radio stations. They just knew it was something they wanted to do together, they said.

Barnes has had an aunt and a few friends affected by breast cancer in the last couple of years, she said.

"I don't know anyone who's not affected by cancer," Barnes said. "If I can help toward medical research, that's a good cause in itself."

"I had heard a couple years back that Maryland is one of the top states with incidents of breast cancer," Stupelman said. "I've been telling people when I ask for donations, and more often than not, people have a story about someone they've lost."

However, Barnes and Stupelman have never attempted such a distance before. They started training during January by walking four times per week. Each walk lasts three hours, during which they go about ten miles, taking a couple of breaks along the way.

Barnes hopes they'll develop a camaraderie with other walkers that will help them get through the 60 miles of the actual walk. "If you don't make it, it's OK. They'll pick you up," Stupelman said, but added, "We don't intend to do that."

The walk is not limited to women, they said. Stupelman read an article about a cancer fund-raising walk on which a man was wearing a T-shirt that said, "I'd walk 1,000 miles for one more minute with you, Mom."

"I'm sure we'll have some emotional moments" along the way, she said.

Organizers will have snacks, water and meals ready for the walkers, who will sleep in tents.

"We've been neighbors nine years and we've gone camping and sworn we'd never go again," Stupelman said. "Our husbands think it's really funny that the women who don't camp opted to go camping."

They're arranging their training schedule so it doesn't interfere with family life and their jobs, Stupelman said. Barnes, a Montgomery County Judicial Center Assignment Office assistant, has two daughters, 2 and 6 years old. Stupelman, a paralegal with a Hagerstown law firm, has two sons, 6 and 9.

Lori Thomas, owner of The Sports Connection Health & Fitness Center in Hagerstown's Ramada Inn, has been "great to us," Stupelman said. Thomas is allowing the two to use Sports Connection's facilities free-of-charge so they can walk indoors during inclement weather, Stupelman said.

Every participant in the walk has agreed to raise a minimum of $1,800 for the Avon Breast Cancer Crusade, which helps get out the message about early detection and supports medical research, according to Barnes.

"Raising the $1,800 scared us more than the walking," Barnes said.

Barnes is almost there and just needs about another $100, she said. "I've learned to be aggressive since I started this. It's not like me, but it's for a good cause," she said.

Stupelman isn't quite as far along. "I'm only about half-way done," she said. "I'm getting it here and there. We're making phone calls and sending out flyers."

"I'm getting a little nervous," she admitted. The money must be raised by April 7.

As an extra incentive, the two are offering a ticket for every $5 donated. Ticket holders have the chance to win a retired Longaberger Basket in a drawing April 30.

To donate, make a check payable to Avon Breast Cancer 3-Day and mail it to Linda Stupelman, 1232 Magnolia Court, Hagerstown, MD, 21742.

The Monday following the walk, the two plan on staying at home to recuperate. "We're not stupid," Stupelman said.

"We're excited about it and a little apprehensive, but it makes sense to do this," she said. "This didn't cross my mind as something not worthwhile."

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