TUPELO – Most of the participants in Saturday’s Komen North Mississippi Race for the Cure measured their journey in minutes or hours.
Since Sept. 11, Ken and Margy Kohl of Helena, Mont., have done it another way.
They’ve traveled thousands of miles to join in six different Race for the Cure events in six different states this fall.
“By the time we get home it will be 8,000 miles,” said Ken Kohl.
It’s part of an odyssey to participate in a Race for the Cure in every state in the union. So far the couple has participated in 40 race events in 40 states the past six years.
Margy Kohl’s pink Race for the Cure survivor shirt features a map with pink ribbons in every state they’ve visited. Mississippi’s ribbon will be added after they return home.
“I wish for a cure before I finish,” said Margy Kohl, a nine-year breast cancer survivor.
Kohl was one of more than 3,700 runners and walkers at Saturday’s event at The Mall at Barnes Crossing.
Organizers hope to raise close to $200,000 this year to fund breast cancer programs and mammograms for the medically underserved in 15 north Mississippi counties. Seventy-five percent of the money raised stays in north Mississippi; the remaining 25 percent goes to fund research grants through the Komen for the Cure Foundation.
The road for the Kohls’ Race for the Cure journey lies in their local race.
“I knew how inspiration the Race (for the Cure) in Helena was for me,” Margy Kohl said. “I thought wouldn’t it be incredible to attend a race in every state.”
So the Kohls have set out in their small RV each spring and fall for the last six years, ever since Margy retired after 37 years as a classroom teacher.
“We see the states, meet lots of wonderful people and all for a wonderful cause,” Margy Kohl said.
The Kohls arrived in Tupelo on Wednesday and took time to see the sites before putting in a few hours Friday, where they helped with race packet pickup.
“Prior to the race, we try to volunteer,” Margy Kohl said.
In addition to the memories, the Kohls will take a pair of North Mississippi Race for the Cure shirts with them to add to their collection.
“My goal is to turn them into a quilt,” Margy Kohl said.
The thousands of runners and walkers packed mall drive battling cold weather and punishing wind gusts. Despite not being a fan of the cold weather, Michael Harrison was up at 8 a.m. with the rest of the participants running for a good cause.
“I’m cold and I’m uncomfortable, but there are people out there dying from cancer who are a lot more uncomfortable than I am,” Harrison said. “So if walking a few miles in the cold will help to save someone from a lifetime of pain and discomfort, then count me in every time.”
Danza Johnson contributed to this report
Michaela Gibson Morris/NEMS Daily Journal