ABOVE, Walkers and their dogs cross IL-127 under the protection of the Nashville Police Department Saturday morning.
By Alex Haglund
Honoring those you love who have died is a way to keep their spirit alive, Christi Thompson Merritt, organizer of the “Walk With The Dogs”, told the crowd at this year’s event, held at Memorial Park in Nashville on Saturday, June 3.
Merritt’s mother, Jeanenne Thompson, died in early 2005. Merritt said that her mother was her best friend and when she died, “I was in a real sad place for a long time.” In celebrating Thompson’s life, Merritt came up with the ideas that would become the Walk With the Dogs, and then met Charlie and Carolyn Detering of Nashville, the event’s local organizers, and the rest is history.
The first year they held the now annual event, less than 100 people were present, most of whom were family. This year’s event, the 11th, saw about 400 people come to the event, and the total fundraising done by the Walk has now surpassed $300,000.
Goals are being met on a grander scale than just the Walk itself too – the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network, which the Walk raises money for, has set a goal of boosting pancreatic cancer survival rates to 12-percent by 2020. Already the rates have gone from a pitiful three-percent to where they are now, a better-but-still-too-low nine-percent.
The low survival rates mean that while the news is getting better and better, unfortunately, Meritt’s fraternity of those who have lost a loved one to pancreatic cancer continues to grow.
“Christine Bevil is here today, the daughter of Bill Windler,” said Merritt, “I said, ‘I’m sorry you had to be here today. This is not a good club to belong to.’ And she said, ‘no, but I obviously feel like I’m in good company here.’”
For more information on the “Walk With the Dogs”, or to see how you can help, follow them on Facebook, or head to walkwiththedogs.com.