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Searching for a cure, one step at a time


Elizabeth Medora

ANTHEM – Linda’s W.I.S.H. is making strides – literally – towards curing breast cancer once and for all.

The 14th annual Linda’s W.I.S.H. 5K Run/Walk is set for Saturday, Sept. 26 at the Persimmon Golf Course in the Anthem Country Club. Last year, this non-profit organization was able to donate $15,000 to breast cancer research, and they hope to top that goal with this year’s event. Everyone is welcome to sign up and support the cause. Proceeds will benefit the HonorHealth Breast Health and Research Center.

Linda’s W.I.S.H.’s mission is to raise funds and awareness in order to find a cure for breast cancer. In 2000, Linda Kacmarsky was diagnosed with breast cancer. As she recovered, she became determined to help find a cure for breast cancer. She began walking in the yearly 3-Day, 60-mile walks in New York, raising thousands of dollars for breast cancer research. After Linda and her husband Frank moved to Arizona, Linda continued to support the cause. She signed up for the first 3-Day in Phoenix and began looking for teammates to join her. She brought on 38 other ladies for the Phoenix 3-Day. For six years, she headed Team Wish, bringing in over a million dollars for research. The first Linda’s W.I.S.H. walk took place in Anthem 14 years ago.

“It started 14 years ago as the Ironwood Walk, as four ladies at the Anthem County Club,” Linda’s husband Frank Kacmarsky explained.

Linda was known for giving comfort to others who had been diagnosed with cancer. She took patients to doctors’ appointments, created meal delivery circles, and met with each patient, giving them hope and encouraging them not to give up.

Linda had another battle with cancer in 2010. Sadly, she passed away that year, leaving her friends, family, and community mourning her loss. But her spirit and determination live on through Linda’s W.I.S.H.

“We renamed the Ironwood Walk Linda’s W.I.S.H in her honor,” Kacmarsky said.

Carol Ward has participated in every Linda’s W.I.S.H. event.

“I started participating because of knowing Linda," Ward said. “I was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2004." She and Linda moved to Anthem at about the same time and became friends through church.

Ward spoke of Linda’s “drive and determination.”

“She was not a figure you could ignore,” Ward said. “She never gave up.”

Ward noted that you don’t have to be a runner or have special training to participate in the 5K run/walk.

“You can go at your own pace,” she said.

Kids join in the walk, including little ones in strollers. Kacmarsky noted that last year, a little boy ran with his mom; he was the youngest runner. The oldest participant was over 80 and had served as a Marine – he walked the whole course, refusing to stop until he reached the finish line.

Thanks to the hard work of medical researchers who are searching for a cure for cancer and to the hard work of volunteers like Linda, who tirelessly fundraise, progress has been made in cancer research.

Kacmarsky discussed the strides made in breast cancer research.

“There’s a lot more chance of recovery and of survival,” Kacmarsky said. “We’re still trying to come up with a cure.”

Kacmarsky noted that the HonorHealth Breast Health and Research Center is “right in our neighborhood.” Multiple HonorHealth Breast Health and Research Centers are located in the Valley, with the closest being at the Sonoran Health and Emergency Center, located at 33423 N. 32nd Ave., near Dove Valley Rd. and the I-17.

HonorHealth stresses that early detection is vital to fighting cancer, and many of their current research projects work towards early detection.

“The HonorHealth Breast Health and Research Center is currently part of a Hologic® imaging research study which focuses on better ways of breast imaging as well as early detection,” said Sherry Gage, RTRM, clinical director of the HonorHealth Breast Health and Research Center.

Gage noted that the HonorHealth Breast Health and Research Center recommends getting a baseline mammogram at age 35 and an annual screening mammogram beginning at age 40.

“Early detection is key!” Gage emphasized.

As a cancer survivor and Linda’s W.I.S.H. supporter, Ward strongly agrees.

“The availability is out there,” Ward said, referring to the services women can get if they can’t afford a mammogram. “Get the mammograms!”

Funds raised in the Linda’s W.I.S.H. walk will support HonorHealth’s breast cancer research, as well as patient care, including financial assistance, nutritional education, genetics counseling, transportation, wigs, prosthetics, and specialized support groups for those impacted by breast cancer. HonorHealth staff noted that funds raised by Linda’s W.I.S.H. for HonorHealth will stay local and help those in need in the community.

A coin challenge to raise additional funds for Linda’s W.I.S.H. is running now through Sept. 10. Boulder Creek and Sandra Day O’Connor High Schools are battling to see who can raise the most. MidFirst Bank will match $1,000; if the schools raise over $2,000, they get a bonus of $250.

O’Connor Cheer Coach Lauren Fetkenhier explained that each coin in the coin challenge is worth the points of the coin value – 25 cents = 25 points. For each dollar that’s brought in to O’Connor for the coin challenge, Boulder Creek will lose 100 points, and vice versa. So the schools are vying for donations and aiming to raise more in a friendly competition for a good cause. If you’d like to donate to the coin challenge, drop donations off to the school of your choice.

“We were excited to take on this challenge,” Fetkenhier said, noting that this is the first year O’Connor cheer has been involved in the coin challenge.

Registration for the walk/run is now open. All ages are welcome. Entry fees are $30 per adult, $10 for 12 and under, or $75 per family – two adults and up to four children. Register online at

Business sponsors are still being sought for the event. If you would like to sponsor the walk, see Donations can also be made online, at any time, with funds going to research and patient care.

Supporters come from all over the state and even across the country to walk for Linda’s W.I.S.H. This year, family members of Linda and Frank’s will be coming down from Seattle to participate. Many local residents take part in the walk, honoring Linda’s memory and raising hope as well as funds.

“They’ve given great support, and hopefully it continues,” Kacmarksy said of the community.

Join the 14th annual Linda’s W.I.S.H. 5K Run/Walk by registering at