2007-06-14 / News

Rafferty stays in shape for a good cause

By Adrienne Downing

Wendy Rafferty took a quick break from her marathon walk last year. Rafferty will walk the 26.2-mile route again this September. Wendy Rafferty took a quick break from her marathon walk last year. Rafferty will walk the 26.2-mile route again this September. What started as a personal fitness journey for Jamestown resident Wendy Rafferty has evolved into a selfless mission to aid in finding a cure for cancer.

Rafferty started walking and going to the gym 18 months ago as a way to shed some extra weight and the 70 pounds she has lost has given her the confidence to participate in the 26.2 mile Boston Marathon Jimmy Fund Walk for the second consecutive year. The walk is the only event other than the Boston Marathon that is sanctioned by the Boston Athletic Association to use the historic route and the money raised through the event goes to support cancer research and care through Dana-Farber Cancer Institute.

"Because I was walking so much to lose weight, one of my friends invited me to be part of a team that was walking in the marathon last year. When I joined the team, I realized what I was doing was so much bigger than me. It really had the power to help someone else," Rafferty said.

Cancer has personally touched Rafferty's family, and she is amazed at how many people locally have had to battle the disease.

"Cancer is such a huge thing, it affects so many people in so many ways," Rafferty said. "Being on the island and watching so many people go though it, it is just important to me to find a cure."

The team she walks with, named "Just Wings" is made up of 14 walkers, with nine of them being from Jamestown.

"Our name came from the captain of our team, Vicki Schmidt, who is from Jamestown. Her niece, Annabelle Peterson, lost a battle in 2005 with medulloblastoma after a stem cell transplant. One Christmas when Annabelle was sick, Santa asked her what she wanted and she said, 'just wings'," Rafferty said.

Thinking of Annabelle and others with cancer motivates her to keep going during the long walk.

"My friend, Jen Grace, and I decided when we did the race that we were not going to complain. These people go through so much, we can walk 26 miles for them. That is our motivation to get to the end, thinking about what they have gone through," Rafferty said.

She is currently walking between 5 and 10 miles a day, and she tries to walk in all types of weather to prepare herself for the race.

"The race is on Sept. 17, and you do not know what the weather that day is going to be like. It could be hot, humid, freezing or raining," she said.

The slogan for the race is "One day. One mission. One walk," but she knows for her to meet her both her personal fitness and race fundraising goals, she must continue to train at an increasingly high level.

She will gradually increase her walking distance over the summer and plans to walk close to 26 miles at least once a month as part of her training.

The dual purpose of what she is doing does not escape her.

"This marathon definitely motivates me to keep with it and to keep with it I definitely know I need to be at the gym and keep walking," she said. "If I gain weight, I am not going to want to do the walk, but now this is a side effect. The main thing is the cure, and walking to help find the cure."

Her weight loss has garnered a lot of attention from the community and she hopes to involve the community in her efforts. She will host a yard sale on Saturday, with proceeds going to the race and she also has a host of other community ideas she hopes to implement throughout the summer.

"When we all come together, we can all help find a cure," Rafferty said.

Donations may be made online by following the links on www.jimmyfund. com or by check made out to The Jimmy Fund, mailed to 13 Plymouth Rd., Jamestown.

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