Heather Yeiser is picture with her two daughters, Mary Adelaide, left, and Lanier. (Special photo: Leslie Cothran)
ALBANY — As is fitting for the month of February, three friends are showing their love of friendship with a special gift for their colleague.
Deerfield-Windsor School teachers Mandy Phillips, Cathy Jones and Kimberly Williams have teamed up to organize the Love Run on Feb. 8 in honor of cancer patient Heather Lanier Yeiser of Albany. The event will consist of a 5K run and 1 mile walk/fun run beginning at the Wild Side running store in Lancaster Village and continuing through the surrounding Lake Park neighborhood.
Yeiser, 39, was diagnosed with breast cancer in October after a standard mammogram examination revealed a tumor. She is about halfway through her chemotherapy treatment.
Her friends say she is carrying on business as usual.
“She’s amazing,” said Williams, “She had a treatment yesterday, and today she’s here teaching class.”
Yeiser, an Albany native, has taught first-grade at Deerfield Windsor for eight years.
Phillips, Williams and Jones came up with the idea of the Love Run as a way to help contribute to Yeiser’s financial costs for treatment.
“We wanted to do something nice for her. Families just incur a lot of expenses with stuff like this,” Williams said.
“A lot of people know Heather and her family, and the response from the community has just been wonderful,” said Williams.
About 30 sponsors from individuals, families, and the community have given their support, and 550 participants have already signed up for the race.
“From all of our sponsors, to walkers — we’re grateful to everyone for their involvement,” Phillips said.
“Chris Phillips at Wild Side has been a tremendous help,” Williams noted. “He’s using his experience to take care of all of the little details involved with a running event like this, from obtaining the correct licensing to a million other things.”
Yeiser herself was not told about the event until plans were well set in motion.
“I was just so surprised when they told me,” she said. “They knew that I would never let them do something like this if I knew about it ahead of time.
“They arranged it so that by the the time I found out, registration forms were out and it was too late to do anything to stop it,” she laughed.
Yeiser said she feels fortunate to receive so much caring support.
“It’s really a kind of surreal feeling,” she said. “You know that your friends and family love you, but it’s another thing all together when you start receiving that same care from people you don’t always see on a daily basis.
“It’s truly amazing, and I just want to give a big ‘thank you’ to everyone in the community for their support.”
Prior to the race, first graders from Yeiser’s class will release pink balloons, Food, music and raffle drawings will be offered at the conclusion of the race.
“We just wanted to think of a way to help Heather tell her story,” said Williams. “We want to bless her, but she’s really the blessing.”
The Love Run will begin at 9 a.m. on Feb. 8. Registration for the 5K is $15 in advance, $25 on the day of the race. Registration for the 1 mile walk/fun run is $10. For more information, contact the Wild Side at (229) 395-5778.