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2021 Sherry’s Run 5K Held In Memory of Cathy Carey


Cathy Carey: A Light That Continues To Shine

Cathy Carey was a dedicated wife, mother, grandmother, loving teacher, and formidable cancer warrior. Her husband, Cliff said, “she had a gentle spirit; she loved everybody, and she never saw the bad in anybody.”

When Cliff described Cathy as a “glass half full” kind of person, Kimberly immediately amended his comment: “she was a glass overflowing kind of person!” Cathy loved to sew, monogram, teach, spend time with her family, and adored her grandchildren. She enjoyed Friendship Christian School sports—especially Friday night football. She loved to travel, and one of her favorite trips was to Alaska where she saw bears on the banks. She relished the water—the lake and the beach. Cathy was an outstanding cook who mastered the art of preparing mouth-watering meals. Cliff Jr. remembered a chicken poppy seed casserole that was his favorite, and Kimberly praised Cathy’s banana pudding as her best dessert because “she used Nutter Butters instead of vanilla wafers. It was amazing!” Cliff maintained that all mealtimes at the Carey house were special because “we all sat down at the table together and shared about our day. Families don’t take time to do that anymore.” To him, Cathy represented that feeling of HOME. “No matter how hard my day was, I always looked forward to going home.” 

Cliff Jr. identified Cathy as “the best mom you could ever have.” Kimberly described her as, “loving and supportive, a wonderful example of how to be Christ-like.” Because Cathy was only in her second year of teaching at Friendship Christian when she had Kimberly as one of her students, Kimberly admitted, “I had to call her Mrs. Carey once class started!” Cliff Jr. said that was short-lived. “By the time I came along,” he laughed, “she was just ‘Mom’ to me. That rule had been relaxed!” Cliff was proud that “students and parents and everyone all speak highly of her. She showed love to all.” The family members were delighted to share stories of families that had been helped through their interactions with Mrs. Carey when she had taught one of their children. Cliff explained that she had a knack for healing brokenness in others. “The child might have a broken home due to divorce, death, or other obstacles to overcome—but she had a way to make them all feel exceptional and gifted. She didn’t make a lot of money, but she made a difference.”

Cathy was first advised she might have cancer in September of 2018. A diagnosis of uterine cancer was followed by a hysterectomy. In the ensuing year, tumors were found on her lungs and lymph nodes. At that time, doctors gave her six months to live if she chose not to undergo treatments; she chose the treatments and stretched her remaining lifespan to 13 months, but eventually, tumors spread to her spine and the cancer was no longer responding to any treatment. Once she determined to use chemotherapy, her focus turned immediately to what she cherished most: What would they tell the grandchildren? Would she be able to continue teaching? Her concern was always for others.

Cathy was involved with the Sherry’s Hope organization from the very first Sherry’s Run 5K Run/Walk event. She started off handing out water to the runners, and then she found a job she loved: working in the silent auction. Kimberly explained that these workers had to be tireless: “They had to be there at 5:30 in the morning, and they were the last to leave at the end of the day.” Tammye Whitaker, the Auction Committee Chair for Sherry’s Run 5K event, remembers Cathy’s dedication and sweet spirit. “My sweet friend, Cathy, was one of the most positive people I have ever met. She always found a bright spot in all circumstances. When I’m discouraged, I recall my friend’s optimism and let go of the worries. Cathy served as a volunteer for Sherry’s Run 5K silent auction for many years. No matter how hot, how stressful, or how much work had to be done, I would look through the crowd, spot Cathy with that sweet smile, and all was good.” Cathy was a big supporter of many of the Sherry’s Run 5K teams—especially Whit’s Warriors and Team Alex.

Because of Cathy’s great faith, Cliff maintains that “she stayed positive right up to the end.” She seemed determined to make it through Christmas of 2020 and share some final good memories with her family. The following day, she started going downhill and had to be helped into the car. The family called in Hospice the next day, and Kimberly admits that this was a tough decision because “Mama was an independent woman. She wanted to be needed and serve others, but she didn’t want to be the one who needed something. I admired her because she was so godly and exemplified every single one of the fruits of the Spirit, and she was so full of grace and strength and dignity.” Cathy’s favorite hymn, “How Shall the Young Secure Their Hearts,” is a perfect reflection of her trust in God. The writer of that hymn compares God’s Word to a guiding light: “’Tis like the sun, a heav’nly light, That guides us all the day; And thru the dangers of the night, A lamp to lead our way.” Cathy Carey was also a light for others. Cliff said tenderly, “She was my home base, my North Star, and my lighthouse.”

The 18th annual Sherry’s Run 5K Run/Walk to benefit Sherry’s Hope will be held in memory of Cathy Carey. The event is scheduled for Saturday, September 11, 2021 at 8 am.  Click here to register or join a team and make a difference in the lives of those in our community affected by cancer.

Sherry’s Hope is a non-profit organization that works throughout the year to provide hope to families battling cancer in Wilson County and surrounding communities by offering emotional encouragement and financial assistance. In addition, Sherry’s Hope works to spread colon health awareness by distributing free colon cancer screening tests and providing colonoscopy assistance.

To learn more about Sherry’s Hope, please call 615-925-2592 or email To refer someone for assistance, please call 615-925-9932, email or visit To make a donation to Sherry’s Hope, click here or mail donations to Sherry’s Hope, P.O. Box 8, Lebanon, TN 37088-0008.

Corrie Cluck

Faith, courage, optimism and a desire to help others were qualities that defined Sharon “Sherry” Patterson Whitaker. Both before and after the energetic wife and mother was diagnosed with colon cancer, the impression she made on her family, friends and community was undeniable. While her battle in the flesh was lost in 2004, the spirit she had shown throughout life continues to touch more lives every day. Because of Sherry’s Run, a 5K run/walk benefit organized in Sherry’s memory, area cancer victims and their families can make strides toward becoming cancer survivors, and researchers are a small step closer to stopping the disease for good.