Judy Emmett is one tough lady.
She beat breast cancer that she was diagnosed with in 2004. Two years ago, she was diagnosed with squamous cell cancer, the second-most common form of skin cancer.
Forget feeling sorry for herself. The Kalaheo woman pushed through that setback, too.
“I keep going,” she said. “You gotta keep going.”
And there she was Saturday morning, running two miles in the Fifth annual Bum Run Kauai, a fundraiser for the American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life, Kauai Visitor Industry Charity Walk and the Kauai Humane Society.
But when she finished, her voice broke with emotion as she spoke of her longtime friend, Carol Ann Davis of Poipu, who died Friday at the age of 82 due to medical complications.
Each step Emmett ran brought back memories of Davis — her smile, her love of dogs, people and Kauai.
“She was a wonderful woman,” said Emmett, fighting back tears.
She looked skyward and said she found comfort in knowing that Davis was “up there with her dog, Athena.
“And they’re free of pain. I’m sure Athena was waiting for her at the Rainbow Bridge.”
There was a range of emotions at the Bum Run, held on the scenic, old golf course path near Hokuala Resort. About 150 keiki, adults and dogs, too, finished the fun run on a beautiful sunny morning.
Afterward, walkers and runners were treated to prizes, food and drink, dog games and the chance to bid on items in a silent auction.
Paul Shindell was running with Prescilla, a hound mix that currently calls the Kauai Humane Society home but would love to be adopted.
The two took a water break not far from the finish line, as Prescilla was thirsty and tired.
“We’re good, we’re ready to get back out there,” Shindell said. “We got this,” he added with a shout as they headed back out on the course.
Their efforts earned them first place for runner/dog tandem.
Garret Katahira of Puhi ran with Hunter, his Dachshund. He helped set things up for the Bum Run, then thought, “I might as well go run,” he said, laughing.
As for his tiny four-legged friend, Katahira was proud.
“Hunter beat everybody,” he said.
Kathy Reams and Mary Pixler used the Bum Run as part of their training for the Hapalua Half Marathon on Oahu in two weeks.
Reams, a nurse, and Pixler, a physician, were all smiles as they finished. Then they stuck around to bid on silent auction items and chat with friends.
And in their line of work, they know how important it is to exercise, eat right and support fundraisers like the Bum Run.
“We’re both in the health field and wanted to support the cause,” Reams said.
Pixler offered advice as well.
“Have your colonoscopy,” she said.
For Diann Hartman, it was simply good to be there with her dogs, Buck and Hina, feeling the sun’s rays, a slight breeze and watching runners and walkers finish.
The director of marketing communications at the Grand Hyatt Kauai Resort &Spa in Poipu was diagnosed with stage four colon cancer four and a half years ago. She underwent surgeries and fought through rough times, but Saturday she was feeling strong and cancer-free.
“And I’m here. A very small percentage make it this far,” she said.
The race was started in support of Hartman, and after a number of her colleagues were diagnosed with cancer a few years ago, the Grand Hyatt rallied to raise cancer awareness, encourage regular screenings and encourage knowledge of family histories.
Hartman said she was “blessed and grateful, for sure.”
“I’m stoked to be here,” she said.
Hartman, president of the KHS board of directors, was equally delighted to see all the dogs, big and small, that came with their owners or from KHS in need of a forever home.
“It’s a great way to start the day,” she said.
Bill Buley, editor-in-chief, can be reached at 245-0457 or email@example.com.