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Bucket List Filled at Sherry's Run

Live Auction Item Fulfills Cancer Patients Dying Wish

LEBANON, TENN. – February 16, 2009 - The original “Bucket List” is a 2007 comedy-drama film starring Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman. The story follows two terminally ill men (Nicholson and Freeman) on a road trip with a wish list of things to do before they “kick the bucket.”  This Hollywood version of the “bucket list” mirrors another version that is much closer to home.  The local version took a route through Wilson County with an important stop at Sherry’s Run.

Sherry's Run 2009Sherry’s Run is a 5k run/walk that raises money to benefit the research & treatment of cancer.  One of the highlights of the event is the live and silent auctions.  Sherry’s Run Co-chair and auction committee chair, Tamara Lampsa, works countless hours throughout the year to secure contributions – always unique auction items – from very generous area supporters.  The auction is a crowd pleaser, but; this past year a live auction item became even more valuable than anyone could have anticipated.

At the auction, Sherry’s Run board member and co-chair Tonyia Watson recalls, “I remember the live auction and the excitement surrounding it.  One bidder in particular, Kay Hammer, was extremely passionate about securing a sought-after auction item – two tickets to an Oprah Winfrey show.  I remember the bid kept going higher and higher; but, at the time, I didn’t realize why it was so important to Kay to win the bid.  As organizers, we were very excited to see the item go so high because we knew that those funds would go to help people right here that suffer with cancer.  Who knew that God’s plan would cover a much greater distance?”

Kay Hammer is who knew!  She knew deeply the devastating impact cancer has on someone.  One of her best friends for almost 30 years, Jessicah Jenkins, had been diagnosed with lung cancer three years ago and had recently been given just a short time to live.  Over 2000 miles away in San Ramon, California, Jessicah received needed support from her friend Kay here in Lebanon.  As best friends do, she relied on Kay to keep her spirits up and be there for her.

One of those uplifting endeavors was the creation of a “Bucket List” for Jessicah. Kay remembers, “We had things on there such as – to spend time together at Lake Tahoe , getting a tattoo together, taking a trip in a convertible together, going to Disney World, and seeing the Oprah Show together… things that Jessicah wanted to do, but like most of us, put off doing because we think there is always plenty of time.  After trying for almost three years, Kay soon realized that the most difficult thing on the list was going to be getting tickets to see the Oprah show.  “Not only was it the most difficult,” Kay said, “but it was the one thing that Jessicah wanted to do the most!”    Every time Kay and Jessicah would talk on the phone, Jessicah would ask, “when are we going to Oprah?”

To Kay’s surprise, greater hands were at work, so when she attended Sherry’s Run and this ‘particular’ auction item came up for bid she knew God had been at work – it was meant for her and her dear friend who was dying of cancer.  The Oprah tickets brought $2,000 – monies that help folks here in Wilson County; but, ultimately the experience that a cancer patient had by these Oprah tickets was priceless.

In California, Jessicah was thrilled when she learned of her friends purchase and she just couldn’t imagine getting one of her wishes fulfilled.  Kay chose the show in October for her and Jessicah to attend.  “I wanted to go as quickly as possible because I wasn’t sure how long my friend would live because she was in such bad shape,” Kay said.  Jessicah had to fly in from California and when she arrived in Chicago, Kay was waiting on her.  Kay said, “Jessicah was in a tremendous amount of pain when she arrived in Chicago and when I bent down to hug Jessicah in her wheelchair, trembling and crying Jessicah begged me to get her to the hotel so she could just lie down.   At that point, I didn’t know if we would even make it to Oprah.  We both knew that if she took any pain medication that making it to the 6 a.m. show would be impossible. I just crawled up in the bed and held my precious friend and prayed aloud that God would give Jessicah the strength to follow through with this dream.  After a very long night and more prayers, that is exactly what He did.  We made it through the night and to Oprah because of answered prayers.”  Jessicah and Kay sat holding hands at the Oprah show, crying at times, realizing this was the last time they would be together.  Jessicah told Kay several times that, “this is the best day of my life.”  Kay knew then that, “it was worth every penny.”

Sherry's Run - Jessicah at the Oprah Winfrey Show in ChicagoRecently, Sherry’s Run received the following note from Pam and Robert Cooksey that states, “Back this fall at Sherry’s Run, Oprah tickets were auctioned off. My friend Kay Hammer got them. Her friend Jessicah had cancer and they (Jessicah & Kay) had a “Bucket List.” Oprah was one thing that Jess hadn’t got to do yet. They made it. Now Jessicah passed away this past weekend. So in memory of Jess and honor of Kay Hammer we would like to donate this. Thanks for all you do, and for the opportunity for the “Bucket List” to be filled.”

Tonyia stated, “I am so thankful that Kay has this memory to hold on to. I’m sure it’s something she will never forget. Stories like this are why we keep on ‘keeping on.’ I am thankful to be a part of an effort where q “Bucket List” can help be filled.”

Kay emphasized, “I don’t wish to be recognized as a hero or anything such as that.  There are so many people involved in making this “dream” come true for my dear friend Jessicah.  First, I would have never given $2000.00 for Oprah tickets; not even for my dying friend, unless I knew that the money would go to help other’s suffering with cancer.  I have witnessed too many friends die from this horrible disease and I know that Sherry’s Run really does help people in this area who are suffering.  I have seen it first hand, and I was more than willing to keep bidding for the tickets if I had to!  So, I sincerely thank Sherry’s Run and all involved in making this trip happen.  Also, I want to acknowledge my incredible friend Pam Cooksey who selflessly went with me to Chicago – just to help me with Jessicah.  Pam has also lost loved ones to cancer and she was extremely supportive and willing to help me any way she could.  Pam’s generous donation to Sherry’s Run after Jessicah passed on January 10, 2009, was more meaningful than anything else she could have done.  I sincerely encourage anyone who has ever been touched by Sherry’s Run to continue to support it and donate any chance they get…. I know I will. Thank you Sherry’s Run and all who work so hard to keep it alive!

The mission of Sherry’s Run is to benefit the research & treatment of cancer, with emphasis on colon cancer.  Sherry’s Run (www.sherrysrun.org) is a 501 (c) (3) organization.  It was started in memory of Sharon “Sherry” Patterson Whitaker who died at the age of 44 from colon cancer. Donations are tax deductible and can be made online.  Funds received serve also to help those locally who suffer with cancer. For more information on Sherry’s Run, please call 615-975-1081 or 615-218-8810 or visit online.