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Man hopes walks help conquer cancer

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POSTED: May 13, 2009 9:35 a.m.
Photo by Ross Blair/

Jim Hickey

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The Liberty County Relay for Life ended Saturday, but a recent visitor walks on in  the name of cancer research.
New Jersey resident Jim Hickey headed along Highway 17 late last month as he added Midway and Riceboro to the list of cities he has walked through during his now more than 6,000-mile journey.
Armed with a walking stick and backpack, which has a large sign that says ‘Cancer Walker’ on it, Hickey hiked through on his way to Jacksonville. From there, he plans to walk Highway 90 to Texas. His final destination is Los Angeles.
Hickey said he hopes his cross-country walk will raise awareness for the need for cancer research.
“And it’s all in memory of my dad,” Hickey said. “I lost my dad in September of ’95 to prostate cancer. I literally saw my dad die a slow death right in front of my eyes … I just felt I had to do something …
“I quit my job, sold my car, threw caution to the wind, put my backpack on, grabbed a walking stick and said ‘let’s go’.”
His current walk is his fourth. Earlier ones have lasted up to four years and the longest stretched 2,300 miles from Washington, D.C. ,to Denver, Colo.
Hickey said he “had over 20 jobs to support myself along the way. I worked as a carny in Iowa, in the Texas oil fields, waiting tables, dug ditches for a cable company, landscaped, you name it.”
His current walk began in July from Charlotte, but was slowed whem he caught walking pneumonia in Columbia and then got shin splints in Charleston.
“This is something I don’t control, and I have no idea how I can do what I do,” Hickey said. “I was supposed to do this — that’s the best way I can describe it.”
He said he stays longer in a town if he comes across a family or child affected by cancer who needs help.
Hickey stayed in Savannah for more than a week after meeting Dave Brantley of Guyton. He credited the Fairfield Inn on Highway 204 for assisting him in his mission by donating his week-long stay. He got two free nights from the Midway Motel. Brantley has cancer, five children ages 6-11, no insurance, and “things aren’t looking good for him as the bills are piling up.”
“Jim Hickey is an amazing man,” Brantley said. “The fact that he’s willing to walk as far as he is to help people like us is an inspiration … Disability should automatically help cancer patients, but I’ve been fighting to get Medicaid since last February. Jim gave us hope when hope is hard to find.”
To donate to the Brantleys, you can call them directly at 772-6165 or via Hickey’s Web site at www.cancerwalkusa.com.
 

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