Middlebury Walks for a Cure

Middlebury Walks for a Cure is a walk/run event to benefit cancer care programs in our area. It was organized by Nean Smith, a lifelong Middlebury resident, who was inspired to start this annual event in gratitude for the care she received during her own battle with cancer.

Nean was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2004. She came to Goshen Center for Cancer Care, where she remembers telling her oncologist she would refuse treatment. After a brief pause and a deep feeling in his voice and eyes, she recalls his words of advice, “If you were my granddaughter, I would urge you to accept treatment. I don’t want to see you come back when it’s too late to be helped.”

Thus began a journey into hope and healing for Nean as she experienced the care of a team of physicians, nurses, naturopathic physicians, counselors and other medical professionals that addressed her physical, emotional and spiritual needs. Her treatment plan included chemotherapy followed by daily radiation for 38 days.

As Nean recovered, she reflected on the process that led to her healing. She organized Middlebury Walks for a Cure in 2005 as a way to express her deep gratitude. Her vision was to raise money to fund local cancer programs in memory of those who have lost the battle, in honor of those fighting the battle, and in hopes that others will not face the disease.

Nean’s son, Shawn, created The Ribbon Lady logo in 2006 to symbolize the spirit of all who support the mission of Middlebury Walks for a Cure. The Lady’s triangular body represents the faith, hope and courage of survivors and supporters who travel the journey of cancer.

Goshen Health Foundation partnered with Nean to bring back the walk in 2015. Since its founding, the event has raised over $213,600. Each year, the donations benefit Goshen Center for Cancer Care and United Cancer Services of Elkhart County.

“Fundraising for cancer research is one challenging but certain option for how cancer treatment improves and advances,” stated Dr. Roderich Schwarz, medical director, Goshen Center for Cancer Care. “The money donated from Middlebury Walks for a Cure has helped support making new drugs and treatment opportunities available to our patients.”