Every step Sarah Williams takes on her afternoon runs puts her on the path to help fight against childhood cancer.
Williams, a licensed practical nurse at Riverview Healthcare Center, is running in the Glass Slipper Challenge and the Disney Princess Half-Marathon this February in Orlando, Fla. She’s entered as a race participant on behalf of St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.
“I wanted to run in the races for a while but I missed the deadline. But then I found there are some charities that you can run for and still sign up,” said Williams, 26.
Originally, she set a $3,200 goal, according to Kendra German, Riverview administrator. But Williams said she has since modified the goal to a more attainable $1,800. She’s about halfway to the goal.
The money has trickled in slowly – through personal donations and a couple of staff breakfasts she has undertaken at work. In a couple of weeks, she expects to have donation canisters placed around Oak Harbor and Port Clinton.
While she doesn’t have a personal connection to any specific childhood cancer case, she considers the cause a noteworthy one.
“It’s very prevalent and I think it gets shoved under the rug sometimes,” Williams said.
The state investigation into the Clyde Cancer Cluster and the recent passing of 14-year-old Devon Kohlman of Port Clinton, who died from an aggressive form of brain cancer, motivate her.
“I hope I can bring some positivity to the situation,” she said.
In the mean time, she collects what cash she can and is working on her ensembles for the races.
“They encourage you to dress up as one of the characters,” said Sarah, who notes her given name means “princess” in Hebrew.
In the first race, she plans to wear the black and red shirt given to her by St. Jude staff. She offset it with Minnie Mouse ears, a black tutu and some white gloves.
As for the princess costume, she still hasn’t narrowed that down. Whatever her choice, she has one supporter already wrapped up.
Her stepson told her it doesn’t matter which princess she chooses to be because “You’ll be the prettiest one,” she recalled.
Williams didn’t used to be a much of distance runner. She spent most of her childhood in central Florida playing softball, a sport which often requires more sprinting.
But in recent years, her parents had a series of health scares, including a heart attack and strokes. Williams became more cognizant of her diet and began a running routine.
She’s up to about five to six miles a day. She’s pretty sure at this pace, she’ll be race ready.
Running in the name of cancer research is the priority. But she plans a few side expeditions during her few days off from work.
“That’s where I’m from - so we’ll also be visiting with my family. It’ll be a good time,’ she said.
To donate, go to St. Jude Heroes website. Click on “Donate to a Hero” designation and type in “Sarah Williams.” Her website is the first to appear on the list.