Miles for a Special Mom, Mindy
Cancer: a word that can bring you to your knees, regardless of how strong you are.
Melinda “Mindy” Hampton, had successfully battled breast cancer and was anticipating her 10 year remission milestone, but her daughters Kathryn and Alicia knew that their mom had been having some pain in her hip. They prodded her about her doctor’s diagnosis to no avail. “She said if they had bad news they would get a hold of her,” Kathryn said.
If there was one thing Mindy regarded as highly important it was motherhood. She made the decision to not tell her three children that her hip diagnosis was actually a recurrence of her breast cancer. Her son, Christopher had just gone through a tough break-up, Kathryn had recently moved to Washington, D.C., and Alicia was in college. She made her husband, Joel promise not to utter a word about the cancer returning. And he didn’t for four years.
Everything happens for a reason–it’s the most commonly used phrase to explain everything from a small-scale disappointment to tragic news. It was also the phrase Mindy told Alicia when she was laid off. A young post-graduate, Alicia came home to visit and discovered medical bills that revealed Mindy’s secret. She immediately confronted her dad, Joel who confirmed Alicia’s worst fear: her mom was not cancer-free.
“I was so naïve,” Alicia said. “The only signs were that her hands were dry and red. But Mom didn’t want her life controlled by a disease.”
Alicia decided to make a difficult phone call and break the news to her sister, Kathryn who was visiting New York City. There are moments in your life that move in slow motion, shake your soul and force you to remember how to breathe. As Kathryn approached Rockefeller Plaza she experienced this unforgettable moment, collapsing into her boyfriend’s arm as Alicia told her the news.
“We were headed to Rockefeller Plaza because my now fiancée had never seen the Rockefeller tree,” Kathryn said. “He has still never seen the tree and I don’t know that I could ever go back.”
After losing her battle, Mindy would not have wanted a sappy blog post about the hard battle she fought but lost to breast cancer. This was the woman whose children joke that she would choose a day at Cedar Point over a cruise. This was the woman who wrote a handwritten letter to the Dean of Students to talk him into letting her husband, Joel stay in school. This was a one-of-a-kind mother who set a remarkable example for her children.
Together, Joel, Alicia, and Kathryn will ride Pelotonia 12 to honor this woman.
Kathryn and Alicia rode last year after discovering that 100 percent of their fundraising would go toward innovative cancer research. This year, after taking care of his brother who recently lost his battle with acute myeloid leukemia Joel is also digging his bike out of storage. He will ride the bike Mindy gave to him for his 40thbirthday. It might not be the newest top-of-the-line bike, but the sentimental value is priceless.
The girls will ride 100-miles to Gambier while Joel will ride the 50-mile route to New Albany. Kathryn and Alicia are looking forward to not being the last one to cross the finish line. Last year, Kathryn chipped the bone in her arm ten days before Pelotonia. But surrounded by Alicia, Joe, and the rest of their Peloton she was able to complete the full 100-miles.
“I don’t know how Kathryn finished,” said Joel “Actually, I do. She did it for her mother.”
This year more people are joining the ride to honor Mindy and their loved ones as the Hampton’s have created a first-year Peloton, Miles for Mindy. The girls are motivated by the promise they made to their mother: to help raise money until a cure is found.
But Joel wants them to commit to something even bigger: raise a million dollars for cancer research.
“Dad’s goal is a little ambitious,” Alicia said. “We may not be able to do it on our own but maybe as a team we can. I hope we find a cure before we reach our million dollar goal.”
Joel isn’t letting the goal for the girls go that easily, but he is ready to help. Next year, he wants to do the 100-miles with the girls.
“I call bull,” said Kathryn “But if he sets his mind to it I think he can do it. He will be in the best shape of his life!”
There is no way to fill the huge hole Mindy’s absence has left in the Hampton’s lives and hearts, but together they have found a way to turn their grief into something positive.
Written By: Melissa Thompson