Walk to benefit boy with leukemia

WELLSBURG – Many who knew Michelle Huffman of New Cumberland remember her perky demeanor, even while facing her second battle with breast cancer.

Wearing a bright pink wig to cover the hair she lost to chemotherapy, she greeted everyone with a smile while working beside her husband, Alan, at Spicy Gringo’s, their Mexican restaurant in Wellsburg; or at events affiliated with the Brooke-Hancock American Cancer Society Relay for Life.

While Michelle lost her battle against the disease in 2012 at the age of 35, her spirit lives on through a 5K run-walk held by friends to benefit a local child with cancer.

In its second year, Michelle’s Miles for Smiles will be held Sunday at the city’s Central Park at 17th and Charles streets.

To kick it off, there also will be a free concert, featuring local bands Cross Creek and 40 Plus, from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. Saturday at the Wellsburg Town Square.

Plans had called for the concert to be held at Central Park also, but that area of the city will be affected by a planned power outage while crews repair a substation there.

Rob Hilt, the event’s volunteer organizer and a friend of the Huffmans, said the walk will follow the same course as last year’s, which started at the town square, but begin and end at Central Park instead. The park offers more space for the many vendors slated to sell food or offer cancer-related information beginning at 10 a.m. Sunday, he said.

Registration for the run-walk is $20 for those who register in advance through the Michelle’s Miles of Smiles Facebook page and $25 for those who register at 11 a.m. Sunday. Proceeds will go to the family of 11-year-old Paul Huff Jr. of Follansbee, who has leukemia.

Last year’s event raised funds for Austin Powell, a Colliers boy with cancer. Plans call for Austin to pass Michelle’s pink wig on to Paul at the concert, starting a new tradition, Hilt said.

He said a special guest for the walk will be Pauline Santa Cruz, Michelle’s mother, who is coming from San Diego, Calif. to attend.

The walk will start at 2 p.m. Prior to that, members of Barnesville Baptist Church will present a puppet show and children will be invited to participate in their own race at 2 p.m. Participants will have a chance to win one of four bicycles.

There also will be drawings for a 42-inch LED television, gift baskets, gas cards and other prizes for adults during the run-walk, thanks to the generosity of many area businesses.

In addition to Spicey Gringo’s, the event’s main sponsor; the event has received a boost from Brooke Hills Park, which is supplying tents, chairs and ice as well as golf passes, mud bog tickets and other prizes.

Hilt added Ron Green has lent his experience as organizer of the Debbie Green Memorial 5K Run in Wheeling.

(Scott can be contacted at wscott@heraldstaronline.com)