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Second annual Walk for Martha on Saturday

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When Martha P. O’Neill died of metastatic renal cell carcinoma, the Jefferson Community College adjunct left a scholarship in her name.

The second annual Walk for Martha to raise scholarship money for another school year begins at 9:30 a.m. Saturday at the college campus and ends in the afternoon with a friendly kickball tournament.

“She just had a very full, wonderful life for a young person,” said her mother, Margot C. Jacoby, Barnes Corners. “She cared about a lot of people. She called herself ‘rich’ because of all the people in her life.”

Mrs. O’Neill was a reading and journalism adjunct for the college and received a Phi Beta Kappa award for outstanding faculty member in 2010. She learned she had cancer in April that year and died four months later, on Aug. 22, at 31. By the time the cancer was discovered, it was spreading to her vital organs.

Although she had only months to live, she remained optimistic, according to her family.

“She gave us a lot during that time,” Mrs. Jacoby said. “She lived her life to the fullest even when she was ill. She got married, for starters.”

Last year, the Walk for Martha raised $33,000 for the scholarship, which is geared toward nontraditional students who enroll in a course of study in humanities or demonstrate both academic merit and financial need.

“Last year, we realized it was a family-fun place to be, and that we had some families with three generations there,” Mrs. Jacoby said of the walk.

Because of the support from a multitude of age groups last year, organizers decided to add a free kickball tournament following the walk. Each team must have at least eight members but cannot exceed 11 people. Prizes will be given to the top three finishing teams.

Lunch and free entertainment by local musicians Beautiful Wreck will be provided. Mrs. Jacoby, who is also a JCC Humanities and English instructor, will be selling a biography of Mrs. O’Neill, Love Lives, at the event.

“It’s a book about living, about loving, about dying,” said Mrs. Jacoby. “It’s about loss. My loss, my family’s loss.”

She said the book could help other families coping with a loved one’s terminal illness.

Registration for the event begins at 9 a.m. by the soccer field near parking lot D and is $20. The 2.2 mile walk/run starts at 9:30 a.m. and the free kickball tournament is at 11 a.m.

For more information or to register, call the JCC athletic office at 786-2232.

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