WELLSBURG - Last year friends of Michelle Huffman put together a run-walk to help her and her husband, Alan, with costs involved in fighting her battle against cancer.
She lost that battle in July at the age of 35, but her husband and friends have decided to carry on her spirit of giving through a second walk this month to help someone else affected by the disease.
Rob Hilt, who organized last year's Run for Michelle, said proceeds for this year's event will go to the family of a local child who has cancer.
IN IT TOGETHER — Volunteers with Michelle’s Miles for Smiles, a walk held in honor of the late Michelle Huffman and for a local family affected by cancer as she was, gathered to make cupcakes sold at the Wellsburg Applefest to raise funds for the event. Among those taking part were, from left, front, Mackenzie Mechling, Melissa Swallie, Bethany Caldwell and Kimberly Reyer; middle: Rob Hilt, the event’s coordinator; Britney Hervey, Holly Groch, Debbie Smith and Cathy Hervey; and back: Kathryn Young and Bill Smith.
-- Warren Scott
"We hope to make it an annual event," he said.
Dubbed Michelle's Miles for Smiles, the run-walk will take the same path as the Wendy's 5K Run held during the Wellsburg 4th of July, beginning at 2 p.m. Oct. 21
Registration will begin at noon. The cost is $20, with T-shirts provided to a limited number of participants. Applications may be obtained at the event's Facebook page, found at Michelle's Miles for Smiles, or at Spicy Gringo's, the Mexican restaurant on Commerce Street she operated with her husband.
Hilt said for children, there will be a free 100-yard dash, a cartoon artist, and games.
He and many others have been raising money for the event through a car wash held at Advance Auto Parts and cupcake sale held at the Wellsburg Applefest.
Hilt said sponsors are still sought and will be recognized on the T-shirts. For information, call Hilt at (740) 457-7720.
He said several area businesses are donating money, goods or services for the event, and Ron Michaux of First National Bank in Wellsburg is assisting in setting up an account for the charity event.
Hilt said last year's event raised nearly $5,000, a testament to the good will Michelle and Alan have built in the community.
He's among customers who became friends with the pair after patronizing their restaurant and will miss her cheerful nature even as she was in the midst of her second battle against breast cancer last year.
A native of San Diego, Huffman was first diagnosed with breast cancer at age 27.
After coming with Alan to his hometown of New Cumberland and opening their restaurant in Wellsburg in 2010, she was diagnosed with it again.
As she had done in California, Huffman spoke at events held by the American Cancer Society and was a strong advocate for early detection in fighting the disease.
Many who attended such events or visited the restaurant recall the bright pink wig Huffman cheerfully donned after losing her hair during radiation therapy. When asked about her new hair coloring, she noted it's the color used to promote breast cancer awareness.
She also remarked that she was moved that so many in the community turned out to help during last year's walk.
"She was an angel. She's very much missed in our community," Hilt said.
Alan said of the event, "Knowing what it meant to the two of us last year and going through so much this past year - we just had to keep it going."
He added, "She touched a lot of lives. I know she's smiling down on us."
(Scott can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.)