Staff Reports

MOULTRIE -- Four women from Colquitt Regional Medical Center's Maternal Infant Services recently completed the Avon Breast Cancer 3-Day Walk to raise money in the fight against breast cancer.

Barbara James, Debbie Hayes, Janet Hayes and Anita Johnston walked 60 miles over three days in the foothills of the North Georgia mountains from Lake Lanier to Atlanta.

Each one of these dedicated ladies had to raise $1,900 to participate, and with the generous donations of family, friends, CRMC physicians, volunteers and employees, they raised about $8,000 total. These funds will provide medically underserved women with direct access to breast health education and early detection screening services.

The OB nurses thanked their supporters, especially the hospital's employee committee, volunteer auxiliary and doctors.

"It was very hard," Johnston said. "We walked uphill in 95-degree weather. Many people became dehydrated."

"Our feet were hurting so bad," she said, "but we kept walking. We walked about 20 miles a day."

"We decided Atlanta miles are longer than Moultrie miles," Debbie Hayes said.

The nurses slept in tents that leaked water from the rain and humidity and took showers in large semi-trailers.

Although it was tough, the nurses were inspired by the spectators who stood along the route and cheered them on.

"One young mother with her two children told us, 'Thank you for walking. My mother is a breast cancer survivor, and my children wouldn't have a grandmother if it were not for the services this provides,'" Johnston said.

James added, "Every day people sat outside their homes and clapped for us, gave us water, misted us with water, hugged us, and offered us candy. It was very touching."

The nurses never forgot their reason for being there.

"During the opening ceremony, they told us that while we were walking for three days, 240 women would die with breast cancer," Debbie Hayes said.

A total of 20,450 walkers attended the event, which raised more than $4 million dollars for breast cancer.

James was among the first group to cross the finish line. When asked her feelings upon completing the walk, she said, "Relief"

Johnston agreed, "We were all very proud that we got through it. Many people were standing at the finish line cheering everyone on as they came in."

"We were glad it was over," Janet Hayes said, "but it was a good experience. We had fun and met a lot of nice people."

The nurses in OB are not finished walking for good causes. They plan to walk at Callaway Gardens this month to raise money for March of Dimes. But this walk will be only seven miles, which will seem like a piece of cake after the Avon 3-Day.

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