Beverly woman raising money for cancer walks

BEVERLY – Karaoke music and loud laughter rolled out of the Beverly Fraternal Order of the Eagles Friday night, where more than 100 area residents gathered to support a Beverly woman on a mission.

Karaoke for a Cure was a fundraiser for Staci Spung, 25, who is raising money to participate in two Susan G. Komen 3-Day walks this year. The walks raise research money for cancer, a disease which took both of Spung’s grandmothers.

“My paternal grandmother passed from breast cancer and then my maternal passed away from abdominal cancer. I pink it out and teal it out for them,” said Spung, referencing the ribbon colors that represent the two types of cancer.

She was decked out in pink and teal Friday. With pictures of her beloved grandmothers on the back of a T-shirt she designed, she made the rounds at the Beverly Eagles, selling raffle tickets, giving out hugs, and just generally thanking people for their support.

Spung started the three-day, 60-mile walks in 2010, shortly after learning her paternal grandmother had been diagnosed with breast cancer.

“She was one of the first people I really knew that had been diagnosed with cancer and I was scared out of my mind,” recalled Spung.

She found out about the walk and registered in February, but by the time she participated in April 2010 her grandmother had lost her battle to the disease.

In August, she lost her maternal grandmother.

Now Spung walks in honor of both women. She plans two walks for this year – first in Philadelphia Sept. 12 through 14 and again in Atlanta on Oct. 17 through 19.

Luckily, Spung is backed by a supportive community. Since starting in 2010, Spung has raised more than $21,000 in support of cancer research.

Supporting the cause is a no-brainer for many who know Spung and recognize her intense drive for the research.

“Staci is wonderful. She has a huge passion for the cause,” said friend Jessica Dixon, 27, who along with husband, Calvin, drove from Lancaster, Ohio, to support Spung Friday night.

Family friend Victoria Hall, 48, said she has known Spung for more than a decade.

“She is a wonderful girl and I’ve supported her for every single walk she’s done. I collect change in a coffee cup at home for her,” she said.

The 60-mile walks take a lot of training – something she was not fully prepared for her first year, said Spung.

“I finished with nine blisters,” she recalled.

By now Spung adheres to a tough training regiment that often includes a 15-mile loop around Marietta. During the actual walks, Spung and her fellow participants average 20 miles a day.

Spung completed a 60-mile walk in Tampa one year after spraining her ankle at the eight-mile mark, noted Staci’s mother, Brenda Spung, of her daughter’s determination. Brenda said it is hard to put her pride in her daughter into words, but being there to cheer her on makes it all worth it.

“It’s hard to explain unless you’re there. The opening and closing ceremonies can bring you to tears,” she said.

Staci has no plans of stopping walking for a cure any time soon.

“I’m going to keep walking every year until I can’t or I don’t have to anymore,” she said.

While the money from the Susan K. Komen events specifically fund breast cancer research, Staci said she is hopeful the efforts will have a role in curing all cancers.

“Cancer is cancer,” she said. “And I think a cure for one will lead to a cure for all.”