Jeannie Goldade considers herself a “miracle.”
The part-time Yuma resident from Lino Lakes, Minn., was diagnosed with Stage 4 ovarian cancer in 2011. It had spread to other parts of her body by the time doctors found the disease.
“I was full of cancer,” Goldade said. “Now I've been dancing with Ned for 10 months.”
Ned? Yes, she explains, “No evidence of disease.”
To raise money for the National Cancer Institute, Goldade decided to raise money for cancer research by Hula Hooping. She joined other Hula Hoopers during the Gila Mountain RV Park Cancer Walk Thursday morning.
Although the park has been holding a cancer walk for the past 12 years, it's the first year that Hula Hooping is part of the effort.
“They're the best Hula Hoopers and they're raising money for cancer,” said Sharon Hilberg, a 14-year breast cancer survivor from Bainbridge Island, Wash. Hilberg took over as director of the annual cancer walk two years ago; former park resident Irma Almond of Spokane, Wash., started the event to support her daughter's struggle with cancer.
This year, aside from the usual participants who walked laps around the park, about a dozen women Hula Hooped by the park's entrance, hoping to garner donations and attention to the event. Many motorists responded by honking.
The other hoopers included Charlene Wicks, Eugene Ore.; Cathy Kennedy, park owner; Pat King, Oklahoma City, Okla.; Gladys Elmquist, Washington; Judy Tallman, Rapid City, S.D.; Leslie Walts, Victoria, British Columbia; and Norma Lee, Lois Grant and Pam Davis, all from Campbell River, B.C.
They'll tell you Hula Hooping for a couple of hours isn't the easiest thing to do. That's why Charlene Morrison of Kelowna, B.C., took turns walking and Hula Hooping.
“It's hard to Hula Hoop for two hours,” Morrison said.
However, others prefer the hoop over walking lap after lap. “Some people can't walk because of their knees, my knees are bone on bone, but I can Hula Hoop,” Wicks said.
She's even lost 30 pounds from Hula Hooping 30 minutes every day. “It's good exercise. It's easy to do and you can do it at home. All you need is a hoop and a desire to do it,” Wicks said.
Not surprisingly, Hula Hooping for cancer was an easy decision. Her husband, Bud Wicks, has colon cancer and is undergoing chemotherapy.
But, as a fellow Hula Hooper noted, constant hooping is quite the challenge. “It's hard to keep the hula up. Your hips get tired from the constant motion,” Wicks said.
That's why the women are challenging other parks to Hula Hoop for charity. If a park would like to accept the challenge, call Sharon Hilberg at 1-206-399-4593 or Pat King at 305-2838.
Other cancer walk participants raised money by taking pledges and/or making donations. They had two hours to walk around the park, with five stations offering drinks and snacks. Each station was decorated to represent a different region: Canada, Mexico, Hawaii and the United States, represented by a 1931 Dodge built by Pete Munk of Spokane, Wash.
The walkers got a star for every lap they completed. At the end, prizes were awarded to the first-, second- and third-place winners.
Many of the participants have been touched by cancer.
“We've had cancer in our family. My first husband passed away from cancer,” said Flip Watt of British Columbia as she passed out stars at the Canada station.
At the U.S. station, Betty Myers noted that her first husband had also died of cancer. “They make a difference, you bet,” the Roseburg, Ore., resident said about events such as Thursday's cancer walk.
Another loyal supporter was KC, a 6-year-old dog. With every lap, she collected a sprinkling of stars on her head and snout.
“She's walked it every year since she was a puppy,” said owner Elmer Mills of Cottonwood, Idaho, whose former wife was stricken with cancer.
Jack Hughes of Willard, Ohio, couldn't walk, but he supported the cause with a donation. He battled lymphoma and appears he has won the fight.
“It's pretty well on the run now,” he quipped.
Hula Hoops - a short history
Hula Hoops seem to have come full circle. They were popular as toys in the '50s and '60s. The adults who used them as toys in their childhood are now using them as fitness tools.
Just as a sphere is endless and has no beginning and no end, so goes the history of the Hula Hoop, according to hulahooping.com.
The ancient Greeks used hoops to exercise. They gained popularity in Great Britain in the 14th century as a form of recreation and religious ceremonies.
Hoop dancing has been a form of storytelling for Native Americans since the 1400s.
British sailors coined the term “hula hoop” after seeing hula dancing in the Hawaiian Islands; they thought it resembled the movements of hooping back home, according to the website.