Local grandmothers give hope with annual City of Hope fundraiser

With the New Year underway, a group of grandmothers already know what they want to accomplish in 2016.

Having already walked hundreds of miles to raise funds for the City of Hope, they hope to grow their local event to raise even more money for cancer research and treatment in the coming year.

The fifth annual San Diego Together4Hope 2-Day Walk isn’t slated until September, but the organizers, who are all grandmothers, are encouraging people to train early for the 40-mile event. Training walks are usually held every Saturday beginning in June, with walks scheduled on Saturdays and Sundays as the event becomes closer.

“By me getting ready to do this and getting people to support me, I feel like I’m doing something,” said Marybeth Brown, a Carlsbad resident who serves as training walk leader. “It’s such an uplifting experience. You feel like you’re making a difference.”

Many of the women who helped launch the walk four years ago used to walk in the Susan G. Komen 3-Day to raise awareness and funds for breast cancer. Disappointed with how the funds were being used, however, they decided to create a local event that would support research and treatment for a variety of cancers.

Encinitas resident Gail King, who is a grandmother of two, pitched an idea for a two day, 40-mile walk in San Diego County that would benefit the City of Hope, one of the nation’s leading centers for cancer treatment and research. With many volunteer hours and support, the first ever San Diego Together4Hope 2-Day Walk was held in 2012.

“We all liked the idea,” said Brown, whose father and grandmother had colon cancer.

“We hit the ground going,” added King. She and the other organizers are now known as “Grandmothers 4 Hope.”

The 2015 San Diego Together4Hope 2-Day Walk was held the last weekend of September.

On the first day, participants walked around De Anza Cove in Mission Bay, where a 5K walk/run and standup paddleboard course were also held in the morning. On the second day, participants walked from Moonlight Beach in Encinitas to Magee Park in Carlsbad and then back to Moonlight Beach.

“It means something to us to get out and share the stories as we’re walking and as we’re training,” King said. “For the people in our lives that have been affected, we are moving forward and reaching out to physically, actively do something in their honor. That is what motivates us to do what we do.”

A total of 17 people participated in this year’s event. Each participant raised a minimum of $1,000 by walking 40 miles over the course of two days across San Diego County. Altogether the event raised $32,000 for the City of Hope, which is located in Duarte, northeast of Los Angeles.

Over the past four years, they have raised more than $160,000 to combat cancer.

“We have some great hospitals here in San Diego, but the fact that we have a cancer research hospital so close and it’s known nationally is pretty cool,” Brown said.

Planning for next year’s event will begin in January. To help with planning or learn about other volunteer opportunities, contact King through the event website at together4hope.org. Visit the link for more about the San Diego Together4Hope 2-Day Walk and training walks leading up to the event.

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