Vota walks for cancer

ST. CLAIRSVILLE resident and breast cancer survivor Jamie Vota recently completed the three day, 60-mile Susan G. Komen walk to fight breast cancer in Chicago.

Vota was diagnosed with breast cancer last April at the age of 47 and her mother lost her fight with breast cancer in 1984.

“I did (the Susan G. Komen) because my mother died of breast cancer at age 39 and then I was diagnosed last year … and came out and consider myself a suvivor, ” said Vota. “People say that the three day is a life changing experience and it really was.”

The life changing experience began for Vota even before the race when it came time for the team of six including Vota’s Daughter Justine Wilson, Shari McNabb, Annee McNabb, Jill Robertson and Aleigha Robertson, to raise $2300 per person for the three-day walk.

“That’s the amazing part, I put it on (Facebook) that I was walking and I had people that supported me,” said Vota. “People that I had not seen since junior high that I was just Facebook friends got onto the Susan G. Komen site and donated to me. (It was) humbling the people I haven’t seen for years and years that they would just pop up and donate.”

Vota’s team also held a spring yard sale in May to raise the funds for the walk.

Overall, the team raised over $13,000.

For Vota, this experience was life changing, as she, along with 1,200 other suvivors and others whose lives have been touched by breast cancer walked the 60 miles.

“When you’re done and you’ve walked past people that would wear pictures of their loved ones on their back, who they lost or who they were waking for and everybody had a story.

“There are so many people with worse stories … then at the end, when you accomplish this goal and they have what they call a survivor walk … all the survivors walk into the closing ceremony together holding hands,” said Vota.

While Vota was hesitant of doing the closing ceremony survivor walk, it was then that she realized everyone there has gone through the same thing as her and that they were going to be okay.

The three – day, 60-mile walk had the walkers taking a different route every day through different parts and neighborhoods of Chicago. Two of Vota’s favorite areas in Chicago were Mount Prospect and Arlington Heights.

“The support these people in these small towns, they come out on the side walks and give you water, band aids and advil. There were cheerleading groups … everybody you could imagine out cheering for us. Just encouraging you to keep going. It was really amazing the support you can get from these same communities.”

Vota plans on walking in the Susan G. Komen three-day walk again.

From the Chicago walk, more than $3.5 million was raised.

Van Dyne can be reached at kvandyne@timesleaderonline.com