Nearly 600 people participate in Compassion Walk to benefit United Cancer Services of Elkhart County

Cancer survivors and their supporters walked at Elkhart Central High School this weekend to benefit a local nonprofit organization that helps cancer patients in Elkhart County.

Posted on May 3, 2014 at 4:44 p.m.

ELKHART — Close to 600 people, including cancer survivors, friends and family, raised money for United Cancer Services of Elkhart County this weekend – one step at a time.

United Cancer Services hosted its annual Compassion Walk fundraiser Saturday, May 3, at Elkhart Central High School. The nonprofit organization helps cancer patients in Elkhart County during their first year of treatment.

Before the walk started, United Cancer Services had already raised $47,000 toward its $50,000 goal. Donations will roll in throughout the week, executive director Peter Norton said.

“It means so much to know the community is behind you,” Norton added. “Sometimes you kind of feel alone doing this, and then you do these events where you fill a gymnasium with people and you realize there’s a whole lot of people supporting you.”

For the third year, Elkhart resident Kim Diebold walked with her grandchildren for a group called Nene’s Network. Diebold is a cancer survivor and said she wanted to support the Compassion Walk in memory of close friends and relatives who have died from cancer.

“I think it’s wonderful to see everyone out here,” she said.

Participating in the Compassion Walk for the first time, Tammie Charlston wanted to give back to United Cancer Services.

“I was diagnosed with thyroid cancer a year and a half ago,” said Charlston, who lives in Nappanee. “They helped with paying bills, gas back and forth from appointments, and medications.”

Next to Charlston was Demeteria Klaer of Nappanee.

“I’m a 20-year survivor of breast cancer, and it’s very emotional,” Klaer said.

Norton said he loves running into survivors that United Cancer Services has helped.

“We have to see them at their worst,” he said, “so it’s good to see them doing so well.”

Follow Elkhart Truth reporter Angelle Barbazon on Twitter at @tweetangelle.

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