Auburn's Michael Kopp intends to go the distance and retrace the steps his late wife took in a fight with a terrible disease.
"It means a great deal to me to honor her and also to continue to fundraise and try to beat this terrible disease," said Kopp, who lost his wife, Cheryl, to brain cancer in February.
"It definitely needs more attention in terms of how devastating brain cancer is," Kopp added. "It is one of the more deadly cancers. In my understanding from Dr. Foltz, the cause is not really known."
Dr. Greg Foltz, who was Cheryl's specialist, is the director of the Center for Advanced Brain Tumor Treatment at the Swedish Neuroscience Institute in Seattle. Doctors like Foltz and researchers continue the pursuit to find a cure, but need financial support to sustain the quest.
Which makes events like the fourth annual Seattle Brain Cancer Walk on Sept. 24 so important to the cause.
Founded in 2008 by volunteers and families, the walk has raised more than $800,000 for research, clinical trials and comprehensive care for an estimated 1,500 brain cancer patients in the Pacific Northwest.
Proceeds from the walk – a two-mile stroll around Seattle Center – go directly to patient care and research. Proceeds will be distributed to the region's most promising brain cancer research projects, including the Ben and Catherine Ivy Brain Tumor Center at Swedish.
The walk is dedicated to providing hope and support for patients who face one of the deadliest forms of cancer. Most patients are given a survival rate of one to two years.
Each year more than 200,000 people in the U.S. are diagnosed with brain cancer or metastatic brain tumor. Primary brain tumors comprise approximately 40,000 of these diagnoses, yet only three treatments for brain cancer have been approved by the FDA in the last 25 years.
For the Kopps, the insidious disease attacked suddenly.
Cheryl was a healthy, active and independent woman who loved her family, her two dogs, occasional travel and the great outdoors of the splendid Northwest. A well-read woman, she was involved in politics and passionate about gardening. She was retired, having worked in software and hardware development.
Cheryl began having symptoms in December 2009 and soon was diagnosed with cancer.
In her fight against the disease, Cheryl committed herself to fundraising, which included the Seattle walk.
"Cheryl felt so strongly about supporting research, she willingly donated a portion of the tissue from her tumor for research studies," Kopp added.
Two years ago, Cheryl trained diligently and completed the 1.4-mile awareness walk.
"It was one of the proudest moments that I have ever had of her," Kopp recalled.
Her team pitched in as well, raising more than $5,000 for research.
"It was a great success that she was very, very proud of," Kopp said.
Weakened by the disease, Cheryl maintained her mobility and mental capacity until late January of this year, Kopp said. A month later, she was gone. She was 55 years old.
To honor her and continue the mission, Kopp and co. will participate in the walk. The goal for the team, Crush LMF, is to raise $10,000.
"We want to double the (previous) total," said Kopp, 55, a pilot who owns and manages the Auburn Flight Services Group/Northwest Aviation College.
"These are passions for me now, so that others may benefit."
Seattle Brain Cancer Walk
• When: Sept. 24. Registration begins at 7:30 a.m., walk to begin at 9. Festivities, tributes and awards at 10:30 a.m.
• Location: Seattle Center, 305 Harrison St.
• Walk route: A two-mile loop, which includes walking twice around the Fountain Lawns at Seattle Center. For those who may not be able to finish the route, it can be shortened to a quarter-mile around the South Fountain Lawn, or you can choose to go only once around the Fountain Lawns (a one-mile loop). The route is scenic, flat and wheelchair accessible.
• Cost: $25 per person through Sept. 22; $30 per person day of event. Registrations include a T-shirt.
• Info, donate: www.braincancerwalk.org