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Walker goes the distance to help friend

August 25, 2010 - Heather Roberts took her first step at Oakland Community College in Farmington Hills and took her last step at Ford Headquarters in Dearborn - finishing 60 miles in three days.

Roberts was inspired to walk in the Susan G. Komen 3-Day Walk because of Springfield Township resident, Cher-Ray Kimler.

"This young lady is 26-years-old and has had breast cancer twice," said Roberts about her friend. "We went last year to cheer on Cher-Ray and her husband. We were hooked."

Roberts had to raise $2,300 to walk in the event but set her personal goal at $3,000.

"We did a bake sale," said Roberts. "Because my husband, Derek, didn't walk this year, his friends supported me. My friend, Glori spread the word in e-blasts."

Heather raised $3,340 for the walk and was happy for the small and large donations, explaining $100 is enough for a mammogram.

"Every dollar counts," she said.

She walked in the heat and the humidity from August 13 to August 15 - taking in inspiration along the path every step of the way.

She read signs along the side, building her motivation "I walk because I can't away," "Your blisters will be healed before her cancer does."

"It was the simple acts of kindness people did over the weekend," Heather added. "Kids with a squirt bottle, someone with a wet paper towel, a piece of paper on a tree saying thank you. It just kept you going because what we went through for three days was nothing compared to what people with cancer go through."

She admitted the first day was rough.

"When they say a mile to go, it's not really a mile to go," she said. "Friday night was a long stretch with nobody to walk with. The heat and humidity was a killer."

She had more people with her walking into camp the second night and as they got into camp they had the crew cheering and welcoming them back.

"The support from family, friends and the communities we walked through was amazing," she said. "The sprinklers were welcoming. I am never one to go under sprinklers, but I did."

The final day she was asked to carry a flag for the final 16.4 miles.

Heather had prepped for the weekend walking 5-10 miles at least every other day and would walk through her Oakhill Road neighborhood or in and around Independence Oaks.

Some days she walked 15 miles to get ready for the longer walks.

She picked up trash along the way and her children, David and Laura would sometimes walk with her.

"It's awesome," said Laura about her mom's walk. Both Laura and David plan to walk when they reach 15-years-old.

Heather picked up her packet to walk again next year and will walk with Cher-Ray. Her husband will either walk or be part of the crew.

"Everyone considers it to be a women's problem, but it affects men too and people of all ages," said Heather. "Even people who don't have a history of breast cancer in their family and those who can't get rid of it."

Heather lost two friends to cancer last year and has a friend in England dying of brain cancer.

"It doesn't have any boundaries. It doesn't matter if it is breast cancer or not," she said. "It's still cancer."

The 3-Day walk in Michigan is Aug.12-14 next year. For more information, please visit www.the3day.org.

Wendi graduated from the University of Michigan-Flint with a degree in communications. She wrote for the Michigan Times college paper and Grand Blanc View before joining The Clarkston News in October 2007.
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