On Saturday, April 16, 2011, numerous bile duct cancer survivors and caregivers gathered in Mountain View, California for the annual Bile Duct Cancer Walk. The Bile Duct Cancer Walk traversed 5 kilometers in beautiful Shoreline Park, and was a great success!
The Bile Duct Cancer Walk began in 2008 after then-4th grader Denny Cmiel had an idea of how he could help after his aunt Levan Gray was diagnosed with bile duct cancer. Denny, along with his mom, Lynn Cmiel, organized the first bile duct cancer walk in honor of Levan Gray and Paul Ernst. Since 2008, this event has grown tremendously and resulted in thousands of dollars being donated to Johns Hopkins for their research in biliary tract cancers. The efforts of the family and friends of Levan Gray have also inspired other families across the US to walk on behalf of their loved ones, resulting in tandem walks being held this year in Sarasota, Florida; Oconomowoc, Washington; Temecula, California; and Ivoryton, Connecticut.
The event also brought together members of the online community here at www.cholangiocarcinoma.org. Marion Schwartz, Director of Advocacy at The Cholangiocarcinoma Foundation, attended and commented that “words cannot describe the powerful feelings we experience with coming face to face with someone we communicate with via our discussion board. With much surprise I met up with Barbara Hartley [who is a cholangiocarcinoma survivor since 2002] and her wonderful husband. It was absolutely terrific.”
Denny’s mom, Joyce Cmeil, provided a moving speech before the walk, thanking everyone for joining in the efforts and welcoming The Cholangiocarcinoma Foundation. The ongoing communications and common efforts between the Bile Duct Cancer Walk and The Cholangiocarcinoma Foundation is inspiring. Marion Schwartz further commented that “when leaving the event, I noticed that several people proudly wore the cholangiocarcinoma.org wristbands, which I believe reenforces our commitment of joining together in the quest of supporting research in order to find a cure for this cancer.”
Full details about the Bile Duct Cancer Walk can be found at www.bileductcancerwalk.org. Please visit the site to find details for the next walk, April 2012 in Mountain View, California, or to enquire about planning a tandem walk. Through this website you can also register to receive updates for next year’s event.