04/27/14 — All the colors

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All the colors

By Becky Barclay
Published in News on April 27, 2014 1:50 AM

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Parker Phillips, 30, of Sanford, was one of the people who ran Saturday as part of the Cures for the Colors cancer fundraiser. Money from the event will be used for everyday expenses for cancer patients throughout the area. Phillips ran 100 miles in 23 hours and 35 minutes. Other runners completed the more traditional 26-mile challenge.

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People line up to dunk Dr. James Atkins in the dunking booth at the Cures for the Colors event. There were also inflatables for the children, a magician, face painting and cornhole boards.

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Dr. James Atkins eggs on a player at the dunking booth at the Cures for the Colors event, which was held Friday and Saturday to raise money to help needy cancer patients. Several people ended up sending the doctor into the water -- all for a good cause.

Tears clouded Barbara Lingle's eyes frequently, sometimes making it difficult for the 33-year-old to see where she was running during this year's Cures for the Colors. But she kept on going and finished the 26.2 miles she set out to do.

As she ran, she remembered her mother, who lost her battle with breast cancer, and her aunt, who is fighting skin cancer.

But they were not the only ones on her mind. That's why she decided to come out for the cancer fundraiser.

"While running, I also thought of all the people who are still here receiving treatments who can't run," she said. "I run for them because they maybe can't take a step and I can, and I can do this for them."

Ms. Lingle said the event, which was held Friday and Saturday, was very emotional for her.

"It was hard, but one step in front of the other," she said. "It means a lot to me."

Although Parker Phillips, 30, considers himself lucky to not know anyone personally with cancer, he still wanted to help raise money for the charitable event.

Phillips ran 100 miles in 23 hours and 35 minutes.

He even battled a potential tornado and a torrential downpour to get his 100 miles in.

"We saw the tornado cloud and everybody was running in," he said. "I thought about it, but kept on going. I got caught in the downpour, which was not fun. Rain makes your shoes heavier and you get cold because you're wet. But I still ran through it all."

Phillips said the event is for a good cause.

"Cancer is something that's hard to go through," he said. "But when you do something like running 100 miles and you go through your life facing challenges, you say to yourself, 'I ran 100 miles, I can do this.'"

Shari Berk, 49, volunteered at Cures for the Colors because cancer is personal to her.

"My dear friend up in Massachusetts, her 17-year-old daughter is going through chemo right now," Ms. Berk said. "She has Hodgkin's lymphoma. And my best friend from childhood had thyroid cancer and is in remission."

This is the fourth year the Cures for the Colors event has been held.

Dr. James Atkins with Southeastern Medical Oncology Center, one of the organizers, estimated that between 850 and 900 people attended the two-day event.

"It's to raise funds for people in eastern North Carolina, east of I-95, who've had surgery, radiation or chemo within the past 12 months," he said. "For many people, it may be things like a gas card that they need. Funds also help with electric bills, water bills and rent.

"A lot of people may be doing OK before their cancer and are able to go from hand to mouth, but then you throw cancer on them and all of a sudden, they're not working as much, they're not able to put gas in their car, they have a few days a week where they may not feel good and they can't go to work. Their paychecks go down and all of a sudden, they're trying to decide do they put gas in their car or food on the table. This money is only to help them survive with the basic necessities."

Atkins said that over the past two years, Cures for the Colors has disbursed more than $200,000 to cancer patients in need -- and 75 percent of that went for gas cards and food cards.

"This year I expect that will be even a little higher," he said. "I had a lady just recently who came to see me and that day she was scrounging around the house to find nickels and dimes so she could put gas in her car so she could come to the office. She's in her 50s but has leukemia. And she just needed help with a gas card to come and get her treatment."

Atkins told of another woman who came to him at Thanksgiving.

"If it hadn't been for a donated turkey and some food that had been brought together, she would not have had anything," he said. "When we gave her the food, the patient just broke down in tears."

Atkins said most people don't realize the needs people in eastern North Carolina have.

"We're blessed and we really don't know the journey that a lot of people have to go through with cancer," he said. "One out of three people will get cancer in their lifetime.

"The good thing with this organization is that nobody gets a salary. There are no paid employees. Everybody works as a volunteer and it's all to raise money to help people who are citizens of eastern North Carolina to help the people that we love and cherish here in the eastern part of the state."

Atkins tells people that death is not the enemy.

"The enemy is not being the person God put you here to be," he said. "We're trying to be that person that God put us here to be to help other people. This about trying to find ways to help people who need the help."

The first year, Cures for the Colors raised $30,000 and $70,000 the next. The group set its goal at $100,000 this year.

That's money that will help cancer patients with a lot of needs.

"Sometimes to cure cancer, you need more research," Atkins said. "And sometimes to cure cancer, you need a gas card.

"I had a guy come to the office who needed radiation therapy. He had a car and lived 18 miles away, but couldn't get there. He needed just two gallons of gas a day five days a week for six weeks. He didn't need more research to get cured, he just needed a gas card.

"Sometimes research is a critical issue. Sometimes the basic needs that we forget about are the real issue."

Also during Cures for the Colors, there was a magician, a dunking booth, inflatables for children, drawings, face painting, cornhole boards, a performance by the Bridge ministries dance team and T-shirts and hats for sale.

The event started at 2 p.m. Friday with a kickoff that night at 7 p.m. Participants released sky lanterns both Friday and Saturday nights. They contained the names of cancer victims, caregivers and others who were important to the cancer patients.

Atkns said Cures for the Colors is the longest distance cancer run/walk event in the world.

"We wanted to do something different and have an ultra marathon," he said. "Here in eastern North Carolina, we're different, and 100 miles is a challenge."

Participants could either do the entire 100 miles by themselves or do it in increments as a team.

Atkins said he expects Cures for the Colors to continue to grow in the future.