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Walk aids brain tumor research

ESCANABA — For the past 14 years, residents have come together to raise money and awareness for brain tumor research by taking a walk through Ludington Park. The 15th annual Walk in the Park for Brain Tumor Research will be held Saturday at 10 a.m., rain or shine, at Ludington Park in Escanaba.

“My sisters and I started the walk in 2005, the summer after our father passed away from a glioblatoma,” Amy Norkus said.

Norkus, the daughter of Don McInnis, said the walk was started in his memory. It was her sister, Anne, who came up with the idea. Norkus, her three sisters and their mother organize the event each year.

She said the family of Sue Anderson later joined in organizing the event with the addition of a bake sale.

The Walk in the Park event includes a two-mile walk and a 5k fun run that is both family and dog friendly.

The 5k starts a little before the walk and takes a different path, Norkus said. The 5K loops along the lakeshore and the two-mile walk follows a path around the lighthouse.

Norkus said people are also free to take their own routes through the park.

Check in is at 9 a.m. with the walk beginning at 10 a.m. at the park pavilion. Refreshments will be provided.

There will also be a bake sale with freshly baked breads, muffins, raffles featuring prizes donated by local businesses, a bubble release and a 50/50 raffle.

Norkus said results of the raffles will be announced after the walk.

The deadline for pre-registration has passed, however, people can still registration on Saturday. There is a registration fee.

All proceeds from the event benefit the Upper Michigan Brain Tumor Center (UMBTC) through the Superior Health Foundation. According to Norkus, the walk has contributed over $80,000 to research since it started.

She said the reason why the proceeds go to Upper Michigan Brain Tumor Center for research is because it is where her father was treated.

Currently there are 75 people who have pre-registered for the event, which Norkus said is normal. She said she expects around 125 people to attend.

“Sometimes we’re surprised with more, sometimes a little less than that,” she said.

Each year Norkus said she is amazed at the support of the people who show up.

The walk raises money for the advancement of brain tumor research, but also raises awareness.

“When we put this on there’s kind of a bittersweet thing that happens,” Norkus said.

She explained the event allows people diagnosed with a brain tumor and their families to connect with others going through the same thing, creating a network of support.

She said a brain tumor diagnosis is terrifying, but the walk and the research the walk funds gives them all hope for more options.

“Raising awareness not just in the effect that it exists, but that there is research being done that could change what this type of diagnosis means,” Norkus said.

This year is a milestone for Don McInnis’s family as it is the 15th year since it all started.

Norkus said when they reach a milestone year it makes them all think a little more deeply about their father, how the walk continues as an annual event, and how the walk is continuously supported by the Escanaba and surrounding areas.

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