AC Flora walks for librarian as thousands rally during Columbia’s breast cancer walk

ccope@thestate.comOctober 5, 2013 

  • Breast cancer survivor advocate, cheerleader dies

    Andrea Kemp, who was diagnosed with breast cancer at age 25, died Monday after a 12½-year battle with the disease.

    She helped found Second Chance, a Columbia-area support group for young women living with breast cancer and went on to organize and lead the Columbia branch of the Young Survival Coalition and the YSC’s Palmetto PALS support group.

    She brought people together online and in person and was well known among breast cancer support and research advocates.

    Friends say she was a fixture at the annual Walk for Life.

  • More information

    How to help

    To donate to Walk for Life, go online at walkforlifecolumbia.org and click on “general donation” at the bottom left side of the page.

Hannah Haddon wore a pink T-shirt with the Wonder Woman logo and the words “Team Haddon” stamped on the back during the annual Walk for Life/Race for Life on Saturday morning in Columbia.

The 9-year-old walked the 3.1 miles in memory of her mother, Mary Haddon.

About 50 other supporters made up Team Haddon, most from A.C. Flora High School, where Mary Haddon was a media specialist in the library until she lost her battle with breast cancer during the first week of school this year.

Hannah said it was awesome to see so many people support her mom.

Team Haddon was one of several among the 8,812 participants walking and running who helped top $615,000 in money raised for breast cancer equipment and community outreach in the Midlands through Palmetto Health Breast Center. The money was about $50,000 more than the organization took in last year.

Participants wore pink, in honor of breast cancer awareness, wherever they could – pink T-shirts, long socks, tutus, hair dye and more.

The trek got a little difficult for Hannah at times but she kept going, she said.

“I had to stop and take a little breath, then got up and walked,” she said.

At the end of the walk she dumped water on her head to cool off from the heat.

A.C. Flora principal Richard McClure participated in the race this year and last. Last year, he walked with Mary Haddon.

“She had a great heart for students and colleagues,” McClure said.

He and others described her as a technology whiz.

“She was such a techie,” Allison Hardin, a Flora media assistant, said. “Mary would just touch it, and it would work.”

The entire school community including parents, students and faculty rallied to support Team Haddon, McClure said.

“So while painful, it’s been unifying,” he said.

To raise money at school one week recently, the song “Friday” by Rebecca Black was played in the mornings between classes, and it would not be turned off until the school had raised $500, which was quickly earned in the first couple of days.

“It was annoying, but it was funny,” said Emily Cate, a sophomore who participated as part of Team Haddon but also walked in honor of her grandmother, a breast cancer survivor.

“I’m really proud to support her and Mrs. Haddon,” Cate said.

Many called Haddon “Wonder Woman” during her battle with cancer, said co-worker Jackie Ortner. Haddon had a Wonder Woman T-shirt and a Snuggie-style blanket she would wear to treatments. A picture of her in the T-shirt was on some of the Team Haddon paddles participants held during the walk.

The team was the event’s second-highest earner, raising $8,756.

Flora teacher Joyce Abel walked as part of Team Haddon and also as a breast cancer survivor of nine years.

“My struggle was not as great as a lot of people’s struggle,” Abel said. “I’m grateful for that.”

Abel credited early detection as the reason she overcame her own battle.

She said Haddon was a beautiful person who did not complain.

“If you did not know she had cancer, you would not have known,” Abel said.

Abel said Haddon’s death was abrupt – even though she had been going through treatment the previous spring, she had looked good a few days before she died.

“It broke my heart because I feel for her daughter,” she said.

Reach Cope at (803) 771-8657 or on Twitter @cassielcope.

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