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Alaska by foot, RV
Cancer fundraiser draws two from Forsyth
trip 1 mccoy
Nicole McCoy walks through her neighborhood as she trains for the upcoming half-marathon. - photo by Jim Dean
Next stop, Alaska.
After months of training, Nicole McCoy and Brian Dill are headed to the great north to participate in a 13.1-mile fundraiser for leukemia and lymphoma.
Though the Mayor's Marathon and Half Marathon isn't until Saturday, the duo head out today for Anchorage, Alaska. McCoy and Dill have each raised more than $4,000 for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.
For McCoy, executive director of Forsyth County Community Connection, the half-marathon is a test of personal strength and emotional growth.
McCoy's mother, Paulette Morgan, died in November and a short time later McCoy began her journey.
"[The walk] is actually on what would be my mom's birthday," she said.
"I think when you survive a traumatic situation and you come through anticipating the events over the first year - the anniversaries and things like that - this is a really healthy way of working through it. It's made me stronger in a lot of different ways."
The two will participate with others from Georgia chapter of the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society's Team in Training, an endurance sports training program. Being a part of the group, Dill said, is encouraging, especially for first-timers.
"It's always great to be able to do it with someone who's never done it before, because of the excitement," he said. "When they see the purple jerseys, they're people are going to start rooting for you because they know it's your first time there."
"I'm also glad to have somebody there that's a friend and knows what I've gone through with family related to cancer. To be able to have that support is, in my opinion, key to success."
McCoy's road to a healthy lifestyle began in January.
She became more cautious of her diet and did physical training about four days a week.
Between working with a trainer and participating in the month-long North Atlanta Boot Camp training program, McCoy was physically motivated.
She also told her friends and co-workers, so they could encourage her "if they saw me putting something in my mouth I shouldn't."
Several months and 30 pounds later, McCoy said she is ready to take on what will be her longest distance to date.
"My strategy is to walk uphill and to run downhill," McCoy said. "That sounds silly, but it's my first race, and you have to do what you can.
"I just want to complete. I'm not worried about a time frame."
For Dill, Cumming-Forsyth County Chamber of Commerce vice president of economic development, completing won't be a problem.
Saturday's event will be his third Leukemia & Lymphoma Society fundraiser. Both events were full marathons and took him to San Diego and Dublin, Ireland.
While the sights were new and exciting, Dill was more focused on the ability to raise money for the diseases, which have claimed the lives of his cousin, grandmother and two close friends.
"I've been involved in numerous charity organizations, but this one is near and dear to my heart," he said.
"They've done a lot in research, but we're still losing family members and friends. I can think of a lot of people's lives in this county that have been touched by cancer."
In addition to having Dill by her side, McCoy will have the support of husband James, his mother, father, brother and grandmother.
The family will come up Friday to cheer her on Saturday. When she's finished with the race, the group will spend the next week traveling by RV through Alaska.
The McCoy crew will be visiting Seward, the Kenai Peninsula and Homer, taking tours of glaciers and dogsled rides.
"When Nicole decided that this was something she wanted to do, my whole family was very supportive of that," said James McCoy. "Primarily, we're going to be there to cheer her on. But while we're there, we decided to see a bit of Alaska.
"It has been absolutely remarkable. It's hard for me to express how proud I am of her willingness to one, do something like this, and two, her dedication to it."