Stories of Courage
We support the Spirit of Survival because we know research saves lives.
For over 30 years, Muriel Fahrion's famous creation, Strawberry Shortcake, has been a loyal friend to children of all ages. And as those kids have grown, they've passed on their love and affection for the character to their own children. Currently living in Medicine Park, Oklahoma, Muriel and Michael were intrigued when the 2007 Spirit of Survival ran through the Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge, practically by their front door.
Even though they weren't runners, they were very excited for the chance to help improve the lives of those battling cancer locally. "There's no way we could [choose not to] get involved," Muriel said. For the 2007 SOS, Muriel and Lori Cummins, the SOS Race Director, put their heads together and created our beloved Superhero Kids Marathon mascot, Skamper the Prairie Dog.
Muriel created our beloved Super Kids mascot, Skamper the Prairie Dog
Michael was diagnosed with Non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, and after exhaustive research of possible treatment centers, such as the Cleveland Clinic and the University of California San Francisco Medical Center, they chose the Cancer Centers right here in Lawton, only 20 minutes from their home in Medicine Park. "Knowing that right in Lawton he could recieve treatment, was consoling to us that we knew that could happen," Murial said. Michael agrees: "We didn't have to travel...it made it so much easier for us."
Consulting with Dr. Nimeh, one of Oklahoma's leading cancer researchers, Muriel and Michael were thrilled with his knowledge and compassion. On Michael's second appointment, their son flew in from San Francisco to learn more about the clinical trial his father was currently enrolled in with Dr. Nimeh. After returning to California, their son met with oncologists at the University of California San Francisco Medical Center and they confirmed that the treatment Michael was receiving was the best treatment option he could have and was in fact the decision they would have made as well.
"Without a doubt we made the right decision. Everybody here was so helpful and wonderful, and everything worked out," Michael states. He is currently tumor free and a proud cancer survivor, continuing his and Muriel's support for the Spirit of Survival's mission of bringing life-saving research and trials right here to Southwest Oklahoma.
Spirit of Community
While there are many stories of courage, strength and hope that come from this event, some stand out as Stories of Heroism.
It was mile 10 of the Hulkin' Half Marathon and Valerie Baty, CCMH Engineering, had three miles to the finish. To her, those three miles could just as well be 30. Baty had decided to quit the race at the next aid station. Behind her was a City of Lawton vehicle, serving as the trail car, bringing in the last participant. In the vehicle sat Weston Owens, a City of Lawton employee who had worked 10 hours straight setting up the race course. He noticed Baty was struggling, so he hopped out to check on her. He decided he was not going to let her give up.
"I enjoy talking to people, so that's what I did," said Owens. "I talked to her about my church, my favorite truck, my mom, her family... just anything to keep her mind off of quitting."
According to Baty, Owens told her his mother was battling breast cancer and was unable to participate in the SOS, she would have to finish it for her and all the others with cancer who couldn't be there. Baty said that gave her the strength and the drive to continue. Owens walked with Baty to the finish line.
"I plan on walking in the SOS next year with my mom," said Owens. "Hopefully Valerie will join us. She's a really nice lady and I enjoyed the time talking with her."