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Cancer walk billed as a tribute and memorial

WESTPORT - Those most affected by cancer will gather Oct. 16 at the Essex County Fairgrounds to walk shoulder-to-shoulder in a display of solidarity and strength against the debilitating disease.

The goal, organizers say, is to raise funds and awareness so that future generations may someday enjoy a cancer free planet.

The motivating factors for these people are many. Some have friends or relatives diagnosed with cancer. Some have been diagnosed themselves - and others have watched helplessly as the disease took someone they love.

Two of the organizers, Kari Ratliff and Kathi Desjardins fall into the latter category, having lost their mother, Honora Carpenter to breast cancer in March, 2009.

The walk, now in its fifth year, was originally organized by Honora - it is now in her honor. Her tremendous outlook on life and will to survive lives on in the hundreds who gather here each year.

This year will no doubt be the same, although the focus has been expanded to include all forms of cancer, not just the type that eventually took Honora's life, after years of battling the disease.

The theme of this year's walk is "Root for a Cure," and the logo is a tree of life whose roots are wrapped with brightly colored ribbons depicting the numerous types of cancer. Attendees will each receive a t-shirt emblazon with a drawing of the logo, designed by Westport Central School senior Nancy Armitage.

Those participating will also be eligible for door prizes and other giveaways. The walk will be held, rain or shine, at 2 p.m., with registration beginning at 1.

The cost of the walk is $20 for those who register by Oct. 3, or $25 the day of the walk. A family living in the same household can participate for $55.

Every penny raised by the walk will remain local and will be distributed equally to local cancer facilities.

Registration forms are available on Facebook by searching Root for a Cure, at Cornell Cooperative Extension in Westport, at www.valleynews.org or by calling Lisa French at 962-8101.

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