Melissa Walker, a third-grade teacher at Fairview Elementary recently competed in the Walt Disney World Marathon in Orlando, Florida. A part of the organization, Team in Training, Walker ran to raise money for The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. She completed the marathon, 26.2 miles, in five hours and 34 minutes.
Her inspiration for participating came from a childhood friend. “When I was growing up I had a dear friend who battled leukemia,” said Walker. “We were best friends. When we were in seventh grade he lost his battle with the disease.” She chose to honor him and several other individuals who have been affected by the disease.
Walker’s team raised money specifically for a man named Sam who battled leukemia and liver cancer. Upon hearing that the foundation’s support had helped keep Sam going throughout his ordeal, Walker became committed to the cause. “Sam said if it wasn’t for the foundation’s support and his daughter, he wouldn’t be there today. They have helped him financially and have given him lots of emotional support.”
Walker met with her team once a week in Northwest Arkansas to discuss fundraising and to train. In order to attend the Disney Marathon, the group had to raise $3,500. In early January, they traveled to Florida where they competed alongside more than 13,000 other runners. Of those 1,250 were part of the Team in Training organization.
“I trained for the cause because of how much it meant to me,” said Walker. “I was also able to do something that I had only dreamed of doing...running 26.2 miles.” Sam, the man for whom Walker’s team ran, recently announced that he is in total remission. Walker is proud of what she accomplished and is proud to know she had a part in helping Sam. “Just knowing I raised money to benefit him gives me a lump in my throat.”