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Effingham Magazine

Jennifer Abernathy: Running Toward a Cure

Jennifer Abernathy: Running Toward a Cure

Story by Kassidy Fikes

October—which is designated Breast Cancer Awareness month—has recently passed, and many of us still have our minds on how many people live with or have suffered from breast cancer. During the month of October, many of us show our support by increasing our self-examinations, scheduling our mammograms, or making a donation to causes that support breast cancer awareness. These are all great ways to keep the fight alive.

However, not many go that extra mile like Jennifer Abernathy.

Year-round—in addition to being a wife and a mother—Jennifer prioritizes remembering those who are fighting daily against breast cancer.

In the past, she has done bake sales, holiday cakes, volunteer work and so much more. She has supported Catie’s Gathering events whose proceeds go to Catie’s Fund of CURE Childhood Cancer.

This year she has taken her passion even farther and participated in the Susan G. Komen 3-day event held in San Diego. The 3 Day is a 60-mile walk over the course of 3 days to raise funds and awareness to fight breast cancer.

In order to prepare for the 3 Day, Jennifer adhered to a strict 16-week training schedule. Over the course of 4 months, she walked or ran 10 miles a day, or 40 miles a week to prepare her body to be able to go 60 miles over the span of 3 days.

The Susan G. Komen is a community of men, women, family, and friends who are supporting those who are fighting or have fought against breast cancer. The 3-Day and its 60 miles in 3 days can be very hard on the body without the right conditioning, which is why the 16-week training schedule is so strongly encouraged.

All participants were asked to set a goal of $2,300 in donations to go toward the Susan G. Komen to further research and education in the fight against breast cancer. This year was Jennifer’s first time doing the event as a participant instead of a volunteer. She also pushed her goal past the $2,300 she was originally asked to raise and set her donation goal to $6,000 dollars.

Raising that amount of funds was difficult when everyone is still recovering from the pandemic, but even still she was only $600 shy of meeting her goal. She even went the extra mile to make personalized t-shirts with pictures of loved ones to get people more involved and motivated to donate.

Jennifer has had ample support from her family with everything that she is doing and did to get to this point in the journey. Her mother even flew out with her to be there as she made her journey through the 3-Day.

“I feel so much better and accomplished, said Jennifer after completing the 3 Day. “I said one and done but it was such an inspiring event I don’t think I can just stop at one.”

Why She Decided to Partipate

Jennifer has always been a huge advocate for cancer awareness but she completed this specific event in memory of her grandmother, Flora Barfield, who passed away 3 years ago. 

Flora was diagnosed with breast cancer in 1992. To double her tragedy, she was diagnosed the same day that she lost her son in a fatal car accident. It was a horrible time for Flora, but she was a fighter and she prevailed. Flora fought her cancer all the way to 2018 where she took her last breath in the arms of her beloved granddaughter Jennifer.

 “The trees that surrounded her house always made the air heavy with the smell of oranges. And my grandmother’s smile—she always had the most infectious smile and laugh,” says Jennifer,

“I did this for her and for others who fight. It’s great to have a month dedicated to breast cancer awareness, but it’s important to remember that people get diagnosed every day.”

October is over, but that doesn’t mean the battle against breast cancer is finished. Many organizations support the fight against breast cancer—the important thing to remember is to support the fight in any way you can. We can all strive harder to make a difference.