Woman Runs in Four Miler for Fifth Time, Raises Large Donation
The Gulch Girls
Cancer survivors and their
supporters are gearing up for one of Charlottesville's biggest races this
weekend. The Women's Four Miler is Virginia's largest all-female race.
organizers prepare for Saturday's race, one woman with a very personal reason
for running is preparing to raise one of the largest donation amounts.
As Ann Marie Smith lines
up at the starting mark this weekend, she does so not just as a cancer
survivor, but as a mentor and symbol of hope for others still battling the
disease. Smith is a mother of three
who lives in Charlottesville.
"We love Charlottesville, it's a great
town," she said.
Five years ago, when she
was 38, Smith found a lump in her breast. "I thought it was probably
something harmless," she said.
She went to see her OB-GYN
and from there ended up at the UVA Cancer Center where she had a mammogram.
"I went from thinking it was something benign to quickly being fairly
frightened because they held me there," Smith said.
A doctor later diagnosed
her with cancer. She had a cyst in her breast and her lymph nodes were also
affected. She ended up having a modified radical mastectomy as well as six
rounds of chemotherapy followed by radiation.
Smith then developed an
infection in her thumb "which was random but very dangerous," she
said. She spent 10 days in the hospital for the infection, and shortly after,
with her immune system still suppressed, she decided to walk the Four Miler for
the first time.
"I was bald and not
in good health in that point," Smith said.
A group of her neighbors
joined her and they called themselves the Gulch Girls, a nickname for their
The next year Smith did
the Four Miler Training Program and was able to run the race. "That was no
small feat given that I had never run more than a mile before in my life,"
she said. "So that was pretty exciting."
The Gulch Girls have
continued to have a Women's Four Miler team each of the following years, but
this is the first year they've decided to raise money.
"This is my fifth year
cancer-versary and I thought in celebration of that it was time to do some
fundraising for the Women's Four Miler, and in turn for the UVA Breast Center
which was so very supportive and good to me during my treatment," said
Smith. "I feel so lucky to have such good support and care here in
Charlottesville and I think that's important and to give back locally."
The eight women on this
year's Gulch Girls team have raised more than $8,000 toward their goal of
$10,000. They have high hopes that they'll reach their goal.
"I think part of your
responsibility as a cancer survivor is to be there for others that are in the
midst of their treatment because that is a very frightening time and when I was
sick and going through treatment other cancer survivors reached out to me and
that made a huge difference," Smith said.
"One cancer survivor
can support another in a way that no other person can," she said.
The Women's Four Miler is Saturday at
Foxfield starting at 8 a.m. Race registration is full, but people are still
encouraged to go out and support the runners. You also have until September 21
to donate for the race.
Click here for more on the Gulch Girls and all
other Four Miler teams.
Woman Runs in Four Miler for Fifth Time, Raises Large DonationMore>>