17th Marathon stepping off Saturday


By Jim Poole

Hundreds of walkers will raise thousands of dollars for cancer patients Saturday.
The 17th annual Marathon for a Better Life will step off at 10am, with all proceeds going to Schoharie County cancer patients and their families.
Held in the parking lot outside Champlin Hall at SUNY Cobleskill, the Marathon will draw dozens of walking teams to participate.
"Everyone's heart is in it," said Marathon President Cherie Stevens. "Your heart has to be."
If the Marathon's format hasn't changed over the years, neither has its goal. Money goes to cancer patients for whatever they need: food, fuel, utility bills, medicine, whatever.
Those needing help must fulfill two simple requirements: Live in Schoharie County and have cancer.
The first Marathon check to a patient is $1,000, Ms. Stevens said, adding that the Marathon helped 150 patients and their families last year.
"These are people in dire straits," she said. "We don't ask for accountability. The families make the decisions about what they need. We don't tell them."
Last year's Marathon raised more than $100,000, and Ms. Stevens is hoping for a similar amount this year.
So far, 38 walking teams have signed on, and they'll bring donations Saturday.
"Some teams raise money all year," Ms. Stevens said.
The Marathon touches a chord not only with people who want to help, but also with those who've been touched by cancer.
Brian Garreau, a DJ who'll be at the Marathon, has had cancer in his family. Two bands that will play have cancer survivors: the lead singer for the Kopy Kats and Mark Wilkins, the lead singer with Crash Course.
"Many have been through cancer or had a family member with cancer," Ms. Stevens said.
"This is all about cancer patients, but it's really positive and upbeat. Everybody has a super reason in their heart for being here."
Teams of eight to 12 walkers can register at the Marathon or beforehand. Members can call 291-9238 to register or download a packet by visiting www.marathonforabetterlife.-org.
That number--291-9238--is also the number cancer patients should call for help.
Teams with tents and campers will line the Champlin Hall parking lot Friday evening. Registration begins at 9am, and opening ceremonies are at 10.
Cancer survivors start the first lap. They're followed by the caregivers before everyone joins in.
A closing luminaria ceremony led by the Reverend Carol Coltrain will be at 9pm.
While the walkers make their rounds, there will be other activities: a book sale, silent auction, gift shop, food and refreshments.
Children's activities will run from noon to 2pm.
Mr. Garreau will play music from 9am to 1, Crash Course will play from 1-4, DJ Mr. Music will be on 4-6, and The Kopy Kats will play at 6.
Joining Ms. Stevens as officers on the Marathon Board of Directors are Vice President Veronica Diamond, Secretary Mina Stella, Assistant Secretary Dawn Schell, Treasurer Christina Brizzee, Assistant Treasurer Kim Law and Historian Todd Brizzee.
Board members are Kathy Diamond, Andy Diamond, Nancy Becker, Penny Lushkevich, Beth Wood, Susan Makely, Holly Hauser and Steve Chaisson.