WINTHROP — Jill Howes couldn’t think of a better way to celebrate her 70th birthday than honoring the memory of her beloved daughter, Rachel, who was stolen away by breast cancer three years ago.

So Howes, of Winthrop, is participating in the Susan G. Komen 3-Day for the Cure, which starts Sept. 23 in Washington, D.C. She will be walking with her daughter-in-law, Kimberly King, 48, of Wayne.

They will walk 60 miles during the course of three days, camping out at night with hundreds of other walkers. The event helps raise millions of dollars for breast cancer research and patient support programs.

Howes said each night, walkers experience an incredible mobile city that’s more than just sleeping tents and warm showers. It’s where they can eat, relax and renew their spirit with fellow walkers.

They will walk 20 miles the first day, 24 miles the second day, and on the last day 16 miles. They’ll end at the Lincoln Memorial.

To prepare for the national three-day event, Howes and King walked a section of the Kennebec River Rail Trail on Tuesday morning. They met at the trail head in the parking near the Augusta YMCA.

“I never trained for anything in my life,” Howes said. “So this is really something for me.”

They walked a moderate pace down the path. Howes said her doctor knows she’s training for the marathon walking event.

She said they each had to raise $2,300 to participate in the walk. Howes is well over $4,500 and King is at $4,176.

“We thought the biggest challenge would be the fundraising, but the biggest challenge was carving out time during the day for walks,” Kimberly King said. “I work and have a 9-year-old daughter and I’m a trustee for the Wayne Cary Memorial Library, and so I attend a lot of meetings.”

Kimberly King said proper training is necessary. They walk almost every day. She cross trains and does “hefty” walks. Howes works out at a fitness center.

“I kind of over-train,” Howes said. “I was worried with my age, I might get hurt or sick and have to catch up and I didn’t want to have to do that. I do a lot of working out at the fitness center and also travel the roads around where I live.”

Howes said she wanted to do the walk in Washington, D.C. because it was her daughter’s stomping ground.

Rachel King lived in Washington, D.C. and had a summer home in Wayne with her husband and three step-daughters. King was a lawyer for the U.S. House Judiciary Committee’s subcommittee on crime and homeland security. She also taught at the Howard University School of Law.

When she moved to D.C. in 1998, she served as a legislative counsel and lobbyist for the American Civil Liberties Union. She was a longtime activist against the death penalty and authored three books on the subject while battling cancer. King was an avid photographer and competed in more than a dozen marathons.

King received her law degree in 1990 from Northeastern University in Boston and a master’s degree in law in 1998 from Temple University in Philadelphia. At the time of her death, she was in a master’s degree program in creative writing at Johns Hopkins University.

She received her master of arts in writing degree posthumously. In her final months of struggle, King continued to work on a writing project that focused in part on her illness. That project was accepted as her thesis, completing the requirements for a master’s degree.

“She was a Type A individual, very active,” Howes said of her daughter. “When she was 9 months old if she couldn’t feed herself she wouldn’t eat. I wonder if way back then, deep inside, she had known that she wasn’t going to have a long life.”

The National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty established Rachel’s Fund in memory of King to continue her lifelong work on behalf of social justice.

She died from complications of metastatic breast cancer in August 2008. Howes said somewhere in the world a woman dies from breast cancer every 69 seconds. “That’s why I’m walking in the three-day for the cure,” she said. “Because everyone deserves a lifetime.”

Kimberly King said the she was motivated to join the effort for her sister-in-law, but also for a co-worker who died in January.

King, a transportation planner with the Maine Department of Transportation, said Nancy Tyler was diagnosed with breast cancer two years ago, but ended up battling cancer a second time when the disease metastasized in her liver.

“A best friend of Rachel’s was walking and invited us to join her and Nancy had just passed away so I said lets do this,” Kimberly King said. “We joined a team called the Blue Footed Boobies. It’s a real bird that’s clumsy on land and had these gorgeous blue feet.”

Mechele Cooper — 621-5663

[email protected]


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