2013-03-21 / News

Jimmy Fund honors islander for efforts


Vicki Schmidt and members of Just Wings hold a quilt prepared for Schmidt by her team members as a gift. Each team member submitted a word that best describes Schmidt and they were embroidered on the quilt as a tribute to her leadership and strength. 
Photo by Steve Gilbert Vicki Schmidt and members of Just Wings hold a quilt prepared for Schmidt by her team members as a gift. Each team member submitted a word that best describes Schmidt and they were embroidered on the quilt as a tribute to her leadership and strength. Photo by Steve Gilbert For the past seven years, Vicki Schmidt, 56, of Jamestown, has participated in the Boston Marathon Jimmy Fund Walk, a one-day charity event that raises funds for all types of cancers at the Dana- Farber Cancer Institute.

On March 10, she was recognized as team captain of the year at the annual award ceremony and brunch, an event that celebrates pacesetters. Pacesetters are walkers who last year raised more than $1,250.

Schmidt began participating in the walk in 2006, just one year after her niece, Anabelle, then 7, succumbed to medulloblastoma, more commonly referred to as a brain tumor. Her fearless journey through cancer treatments at Dana-Farber’s Jimmy Fund Clinic is what motivated Schmidt to initially register for the walk.

“Anabelle was a spirited girl with a passion for animals and an eye for collecting colorful seashells,” said Schmidt. “When Anabelle passed, I immediately went onto the Jimmy Fund’s website and found the walk. It was a perfect way to do something in her memory.”

In December 2002, the year of Anabelle’s diagnosis, she sat on Santa’s lap and asked for what was her only Christmas wish that year: “Just wings.” Her request was the inspiration for the name of the walk team.

To date, 77 people have walked as part of the team. Together through various private fundraising events and individual donations, the group of walkers, which includes Schmidt’s immediate family, friends, friends of friends and co-workers, has cumulatively raised nearly $104,000 to support adult and pediatric patient care at Dana-Farber.

Last August, less than five weeks before the walk, Schmidt was diagnosed with ovarian cancer. She had no prior symptoms or family history of cancer. She immediately underwent major surgery. With the love and support of her family, she was able to walk the 3-mile route on Sept. 9, meeting up with her family who walked 26.2 miles.

“I was just 16 days post-op after major surgery and I was determined to walk,” said Schmidt. “Although my son’s girlfriend was lovingly by my side pushing a wheelchair, I walked every step of those 3 miles by foot and as a family, we crossed the finish together.”

In 2012, Schmidt raised more than $2,500 for Dana-Farber.

One month after the walk, two of Schmidt’s team members who have walked with her for the past six years lost their son and grandson, Cole Grace, then 8, to glioblastoma, the most common and aggressive type of brain tumor. He was diagnosed in January 2012. Consequently, Just Wings dedicated its 2012 walk to Cole.

To kick off the New Year in 2013, Schmidt received two positive pieces of news: she no longer needed to endure chemotherapy treatments and was nominated for the walk’s captain of the year by her friends, family and teammates. Now she is more determined than ever to raise as much money as possible to help people affected by cancer. She has vowed to participate in the walk as long as she is physically able.

On Sept. 8, Schmidt will walk 26.2 miles alongside members of Just Wings in what will be her eighth walk. Her goal is to raise $1,500, the 2013 threshold amount to become a pacesetter. The 2013 goal is to raise more than $7 million.

Since 1989, the Jimmy Fund Walk has raised nearly $87 million for Dana-Farber.

“I truly believe that my outcome from my cancer right now might be different if people hadn’t been walking for the past 25 years,” said Schmidt. “What we do as walkers makes a difference in cancer research. I feel incredibly honored to receive the team captain of the year award and I look forward to walking the full 26.2 miles this year.”

The Boston Marathon Jimmy Fund Walk gives participants a unique opportunity to walk one of four routes along the historic Boston Marathon route.

“Whether walkers participate as individuals or as part of a team, everyone makes a difference,” said Ann Beach, director of the event. “The money raised by walkers directly benefits New England residents such as Vicki. Treatment and research advances made at Dana- Farber Cancer Institute make a difference in people’s lives every day.” ”

To register for the 25th anniversary of the Boston Marathon Jimmy Fund Walk or to support a walker, visit JimmyFundWalk.org or call 866-531-9255.

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