Two events will be held next month to raise awareness about lung cancer.
Heather Brown will compete in the Free to Breathe run/walk Sept. 7 at Dickman Mill Park in Tacoma, and James Neighbor will participate in a 100-mile bike ride around Puget Sound for the American Lung Association on Sept. 14.
Brown, who lives in Gig Harbor with her husband and two children, lost her step-father to lung cancer seven years ago.
As she grew up, Brown spent time at her mother and step-father’s house with her seven step-siblings. Her mother married her step-father when she was 9, although she knew him before then.
“We had a really big combined family,” Brown said.
Brown’s step-siblings have since moved out of their parents’ home. Her step-father died in June 2006, and her family has grieved ever since.
Brown plans to run the race with her daughter in honor of her step-father.
“He was a good friend,” Brown said.
“I have been looking for races that speak to me with causes I believe in,” she added. “This one I feel very strongly about.”
Brown is excited to raise awareness of lung cancer. She said more information may have helped her step-father at the time.
She also hopes the race will help her heal.
“To help me work through the healing process that I never got to do,” Brown said.
Brown will enter the race as an individual but looks forward to forming a team and making it a family event in the future.
All proceeds from Free to Breathe will go to National Lung Cancer Partnership’s programs, which are attempting to double lung cancer survival by 2022.
Meanwhile, Neighbor lost his mother, Nadine, to cancer in October 2011. She lived in Gig Harbor for 18 years.
Nadine suffered from five cancers in five years, James said. At different times, she was diagnosed with lung cancer, breast cancer and bladder cancer.
Neighbor’s mother was a longtime smoker who quit about 10 years before she was diagnosed with lung cancer for the first time.
“Being a cyclist, it is more than just cancer,” Neighbor said. “It’s about air quality, lung disease and bringing awareness.”
The race will start in West Seattle, continue through Tacoma, go across the Tacoma Narrows Bridge through historic Gig Harbor, ride through the Kitsap Peninsula and past Long Lake, where participants will board a ferry.
The ferry will take them to the finish line back in West Seattle, where a celebration will be held.
Neighbor plans to ride the 100-mile route with his daughter’s boyfriend.
Neighbor, a lifelong cyclist, once rode 200 miles.
“I’ve done many organized rides,” he said. “I thought it would be neat to do it in honor of my mom.”
Neighbor said his mom was never a cyclist but always supported him.
“My mom started my cycling career with my first Schwinn bicycle, the Stingray,” Neighbor said.
“My mom’s favorite present to give me was a gift certificate from Old Town Bicycle in Gig Harbor,” he added.
Neighbor was close to his parents, who originally were from the San Francisco Bay area but moved to Gig Harbor to be closer to him when his father got sick.
Neighbor worked in Seattle as a chef and would frequently ride his bike from Federal Way to Gig Harbor to visit.
“That has always been one of my favorite training routes,” Neighbor said. “Still one of my favorite rides is to Gig Harbor.”