Students, faculty members, family and friends at Farley Elementary School will walk today in honor of one of their own: guidance counselor Kim Street, who battled and beat cancer.
In March 2007, Street was diagnosed with Mantle Cell Lymphoma, one of the rarest forms of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, making up only 6 percent of U.S. cases. She was selected as one of 110 people nationwide for a 10-year clinical study and underwent a stem cell transplant. She had her final treatment and has been cancer-free since February 2009.
Street, who has worked at Farley Elementary as the physical education teacher and guidance counselor for 27 years, had to take a 16-month leave of absence following her diagnosis.
"I never felt forgotten by my Farley family. I had constant support with visits, cards and prayers," Street said. "I was overwhelmed with the feeling that people were rooting for me."
Second-grade teacher Kelly Russell began planning the event last fall and emphasized the importance of promoting awareness of cancer and its large-scale impact. She also wanted to place the spotlight on Street and her story of survival.
"Despite the odds, she fought the disease and is a survivor," Russell said. "Kim is a truly amazing person. With a determined, positive attitude she inspired all of us. It means so much for the school and the community to honor her."
Russell has been touched further by the disease, losing her grandfather last year. And her daughter's friend, McCracken County High School student Amanda Weir, was diagnosed with leukemia.
Farley will have a sidewalk chalk memorial in front of the school, so students, parents and faculty can write a name to honor during the walk.
"We have to bring awareness to cancer. Nearly everyone has been affected in some way with a family member or friend," Russell said. "It's meaningful for students to put a face to those who survived it."
To honor Street, the school will host a mini Relay For Life beginning at 8:50 a.m. today. The walk's tagline is "Another Day Closer," a mantra Street began using after she was diagnosed and still appears in her email signatures.
Students could collect sponsors and donations for the walk, but every student will participate. All funds raised will be donated to Relay For Life to go toward cancer research.
"It's wonderful that we are raising money to further research, that's the reason I'm here today ... the people who are finding ways to get cancer into remission," Street said.
Street will walk the first lap alone and then any cancer survivors can join her for the second lap. Students will then begin walking, divided by grade in the third lap. Third-grade will walk from 9-10 a.m., kindergarten from 10-11 a.m.; fourth-grade from 11 a.m. to noon; first-grade from noon to 1 p.m.; second-grade from 1-2 p.m.; and fifth-grade from 2-3 p.m. Parents and caregivers are invited to join their children during the designated time period, Russell said.
"It's our hope that this experience will be meaningful for not only the students of Farley but for everyone that has been affected by cancer," Russell said.
Contact Kathleen Fox, a Paducah Sun staff writer, at 270-575-8651 or follow @kathleendfox on Twitter.