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Dragonslayers to storm Cook Park this Saturday

Annual walk to benefit Northwest Sarcoma Foundation

SUBMITTED PHOTO - Sam Day, right, cheers after winning the largest team at last years Dragonslayer Walk at Cook Park. Sam will be the guest of honor at this years walk, held Saturday.Sam Day isn’t sure what he’s going to say when he steps on the stage this weekend, but he’s sure it will include three simple words.

Just. Keep. Fighting.

“That’s something that you need to know in order to get through a fight like this,” said Sam, an eighth grader at Cedar Park Middle School in Beaverton who will be the guest speaker at this weekend’s SUBMITTED PHOTO - Sam Day, right, cheers after winning the largest team at last years Dragonslayer Walk at Cook Park. Sam will be the guest of honor at this years walk, held Saturday.seventh annual Dragonslayer PDX Walk for Sarcoma at Cook Park. “You just have to keep fighting.”

The non-competitive 5K walk kicks off at 9:30 a.m. Saturday at the park and will include plenty of fun, from face painting to arts and crafts.

The walk began in Seattle as a way to honor those who have been affected by sarcoma, tumors that are found in connective tissue such as fat, blood vessels, nerves, bones and muscles.

A Portland event was sparked in 2009 and has been held in Tigard since 2012, each year leading walkers around the three-mile loop at Cook Park. Walkers, runners and bicyclists are invited, as are dogs and people in wheelchairs.

Proceeds benefit the Northwest Sarcoma Foundation.

This is Sam’s fourth year walking in the event.

“The spirit of it is energizing for him,” said Sam’s mother, Lorna Day. “The first time he went was the day after he had been to chemo. He was wiped out and not feeling great, but the energy of that event just brought his spirit back. The difference between his demeanor when we pulled up and at the end were amazing. He was so excited that all the nausea and fatigue just went away.”

Sam said that the spirit of the walks are infectious.

“It’s fun,” Sam said. “Everyone is smiling and it has this very upbeat feeling. It gives you a happy feeling being there. A feeling of hope.”

Sam was diagnosed with Ewing’s sarcoma, a rare cancer found in the bone and soft tissue, five years ago.

Sam has had a long and difficult battle with cancer. He lost his leg to cancer at the age of 9.

It’s a difficult cancer to beat, but Sam’s positive attitude is infectious, Lorna Day said. For the first time in 18 months, Sam’s tumor is shrinking.

Sam regularly brings home awards for the having the largest team, and he expects to see between 40 and 50 team members cheering him on at Saturday’s walk.

“Sam is a competitive kid,” Lorna said.

Sam said he can’t imagine not going to Dragonslayer.

“I want to keep doing it as long as I can,” he said. “It’s an awesome walk.”

Sam has a few days left to write his speech. Lorna said she considers him to be a hero.

“It bothers him when people call him a hero,” Lorna Day said. “He says he’s not a hero if he has to endure this, but he’s a hero because he has been through so much and kept his spirit and his attitude strong. That’s what people notice about him right away. He brings the right kind of energy and optimism to the event, and that’s what it’s all about.”

By Geoff Pursinger
email: gpursinger@commnewspapers.com
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