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The children of a Pemberville man who lost his life in a brief but brutal battle with pancreatic cancer are organizing a memorial walk with the hope of sparing other families the heartache the disease left in its wake.

Robert Kohring Sr. was always the picture of health, according to his daughter, Lori Laake. “He was athletic – he biked, played basketball and he walked miles a day – and everyone thought he’d live to be 100.”

The family was shocked in March 2010 when the former Marine was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. They were even more stunned when, just 54 days later, he succumbed to the disease.

Kohring
Robert Kohring, Sr.

Since then, Laake and her siblings have been dedicating themselves to raising funds and awareness about the disease, which also claimed Apple co-founder Steve Jobs; actor Patrick Swayze; singer Luciano Pavarotti and Carnegie-Mellon University professor Randy Pausch, acclaimed for his “Last Lecture.”

Pancreatic cancer – the fourth-leading cause of cancer deaths in the U.S. – is often labeled a silent disease because many times the signs and symptoms can go unnoticed until the cancer is in the advanced stage. Even when there are early signs and symptoms, they may be vague and easily attributed to another disease.

Currently, there is no early test. Fewer than 20 percent of those diagnosed are eligible for surgery.

According to the National Cancer Institute at the National Institutes of Health, an estimated 43,920 new cases will be diagnosed in 2012. The grim statistics show that the disease will claim some 37,390 Americans this year.

“We feel it’s critical to raise awareness and to garner support for the ongoing research,” Laake said. “Unlike with breast and some other forms of cancer where survivors can support the cause, pancreatic cancer leaves few survivors, so it’s up to the families and loved ones to get behind the cause and advocate for research and early detection.”

Toward that end, Kohring’s offspring are sponsoring the first annual Pancreatic Cancer Research Walk Aug. 19 in Pemberville. “Our dad was born, raised and died in Pemberville,” Laake said. “He biked and walked the streets so many times – many people knew him – so we thought it would be very fitting to hold the walk there.”

The event will be hosted by The Lustgarten Foundation, a nonprofit organization established by Cablevision in 1998 in honor of one of its executives, Marc Lustgarten, who died from pancreatic cancer at the age of 52 years. The company has made a multi-year commitment to underwrite all of the Foundation’s administrative expenses to ensure that every cent of every donation goes directly to pancreatic cancer research.

To date, the Foundation has provided more than $42 million in support of research to find early detection methods, better treatments, and ultimately, a cure. Major projects include sequencing the genome of pancreatic cancers and an early detection initiative to develop a blood test to detect the disease.


To get involved
The walk will begin at the Pemberville Fire Department, 104 E. Front St. Registration will open at noon and the walk will start at 1 p.m. A number of items will be raffled at the end of walk.

Participants will walk a three-mile route around the village of Pemberville. All routes are handicap stroller accessible. Dogs are permitted at the walk on a leash. Parking is available on site.

A minimum pledge of $30 is requested for early, online registration and $35 the day of the event. The pledge minimum may include a personal donation, and/or contributions pledged in support of pancreatic cancer research.

To register, make a donation or for more information about the event, visit http://tinyurl.com/PembervilleWalk. To learn more about the Lustgarten Foundation, visit www.lustgarten.org.

“We currently have about more than 50 registered, and we’re encouraging early registration,” Laake said.

Robert Kohring Sr. was always the picture of health, according to his daughter, Lori Laake. “He was athletic – he biked, played basketball and he walked miles a day – and everyone thought he’d live to be 100.”

 
A Pancreatic Cancer Research Walk will be held in memory of Robert Kohring Sr. Aug. 19 in Pemberville. Kohring, who was always “the picture of health” died just 54 days after being diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.

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