Kick Butts Day
5K run helps Shaffer find hope
Avid gardener, card player, big brother, dad, husband ... and smoker.
Those are the things Bunsold Middle School teacher Becky Shaffer remembers when she is asked to describe her brother, David Foster.
The smoking took Foster's life in June 2010 at age 43, just eight weeks after he was diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer.
Now Shaffer is collaborating with the Union County Health Department to organize a 5K run in her brother's memory to raise public awareness about the risk of tobacco use and the importance of early detection.
"You always see breast cancer awareness," she said. "Everywhere you look, you see the pink ribbon. You don't ever see the blue ribbon for colon cancer or the white ribbon for lung cancer.
"It would be nice if companies would buy into lung cancer awareness like they do breast cancer and help get rid of the stigma."
The David Foster Memorial Run scheduled March 16 at Mill Creek Park is part of the community component of the annual Kick Butts Day at Bunsold Middle School, which aims to educate kids about the risks of smoking. The race also will be a lead-in to National Kick Butts Day on March 20.
Registration begins at 8 a.m. with the race starting at 9 a.m. The cost is $25 per person. Those interested can register online at www.uchd.net.
Proceeds from the race will be donated to the Lung Cancer Alliance.
"Local community businesses have been amazing, so each mile marker is sponsored," Shaffer said.
The start line also will feature projects completed by students in Shaffer's seventh-grade health class showing the various dangers of smoking.
About 75 runners are signed up so far, including members of the eighth-grade softball team she coaches.
Shaffer and her mother have conducted two 5K events in Foster's name in their hometown of Ashland, Ohio. They have raised about $4,000 in a year and half.
But Shaffer said National Kick Butts Day is a perfect time to run for a cause in Marysville, the community she now calls home.
She has several reasons for wanting to raise awareness. One is to promote early detection.
Her brother got sick in May 2009 but doctors prescribed antibiotics for a bronchial infection, she said. A pain in his back was treated with physical therapy. It was more than a year before the diagnosis of lung cancer came.
"Not one time did anyone do an X-ray. That is one reason I'm so adamant about doing these races and bringing attention to lung cancer," Shaffer said. "Lung cancer is the No. 1 cancer over any other cancer out there because it usually it is not detected until stage 4.
"My brother started smoking at age 13. That's why we hit this age group so hard, because it's the age kids start smoking," she said. "They say one in five kids this age try smoking at least at one time and about 1,000 will actually get addicted every day in the United States."
Shaffer believes there is a certain stigma about lung cancer and smoking that leads people to feel less sympathy toward those dealing with the disease.
However, she said, many lung cancer patients are nonsmokers. She also believes the addiction to tobacco needs to be addressed.
Shaffer remembers a quiet moment with her brother during his two-month ordeal: "He said, 'I never thought that picking up a cigarette would kill me'."
Shaffer said her brother would tease her if he were here to see her planning this event.
"He would say, 'Only you, Boo.' He would be shaking his head right now that we were doing anything with his name on it."