Herald JournalHerald Journal, Aug. 2, 2004

Stephanie Dahl prepares to walk 60 miles

By Heidi Stuteberg

Have you ever walked to a nearby town? Have you ever walked 26 miles in one weekend?

Stephanie Dahl of Lester Prairie is doing just that to train for a 60-mile walk-a-thon in September to honor her sister who died of the disease last year.

Dahl started training in March for the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation Walk-a-thon event taking place Friday through Sunday, Sept. 10-12.

Dahl’s sister, Penny Stai, was diagnosed with breast cancer at the age of 36. Her battle included a double mastectomy, cancer in all of her lymph nodes, a period of remission, then cancer in her brain. Stai passed away after getting pneumonia, following a laser treatment, at the age of 38.

“It’s always a belief that it happens to older women,” Dahl said.

This year is the first year the foundation is having the three-day walk-a-thon in Minneapolis. It has taken place in other cities throughout the United States in the past.

The walk-a-thon will start at Canterbury Park and end at the State Capitol building.

There will be at least 2,000 participants, each bringing a minimum of $2,000 in donations raised for breast cancer research and awareness.

Dahl has already reached that minimum figure as she keeps up her walking regimen for the walk-a-thon.

So far, the participants of the Minneapolis walk-a-thon have raised the most in donations for the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation.

Dahl also mentioned that if a family member gets diagnosed with breast cancer, one is supposed to get a mammogram 10 years earlier than the age of the relative who was diagnosed with the cancer.

When asked what her sister would say if she could see her now, Dahl said, “I think she would be proud. She was always willing to help others, sometimes more than herself.”

Dahl is thankful that her sister was able to see her get married, since Stai passed away five months after Dahl’s wedding.

Her sister left behind a husband and three children. Stai’s husband is also training and participating in the walk-a-thon.

“It’s a lot for an adult to do. Anyone (who participates) has to bring in the minimum $2,000,” Dahl noted.

Participants can receive donations until Sept. 10.

As the three day walk-a-thon draws near, Dahl persistently walks for the cause, often with a friend or her dog.

She can walk four miles an hour, and advises other walkers not to wear headphones if walking on a highway, so you can hear trucks coming.

The opening ceremony for the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Walk-a-thon will begin a 6:30 a.m. Friday. Sept. 10.

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