July 23, 2016

Partly sunny

Team Woo-Hooters walking their talk

Judy A. Totts | The Gazette

“Woo-Hoo, Woo-Hoo, Woo-Hoo!”

That’s the battle cry of Team Woo-Hooters, a group of six area women who will walk in the annual Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer 3-Day event July 31 to Aug. 2 in Cleveland.

They all walk the talk because they know someone who is a breast cancer survivor, like teammate Lorie Clark, 39, or someone who succumbed to the disease.

Seth Starman, 17, son of team member Meredith Starman, 39, of Litchfield Township, started the whole thing during Meredith’s first walk two years ago. To other walk participants in Cleveland, he’s known as the “Woo-Hoo” guy, his mom said.

“He had a big cardboard-and-duct tape sign with ‘Woo-Hoo’ printed on it,” Starman said, her face shaded by a pink visor pulled low on her forehead. “He moved along the route, holding up the sign, and shouting, ‘Woo-Hoo!’ He really inspired a lot of ladies who didn’t have people rooting for them.”

The last day it rained hard, and Seth’s sign fell apart, so this year his father made a giant woodcut sign to add impact to his exuberant support.

But enthusiasm and determination alone aren’t enough to get a team into the event. Each team member — Starman, Medina residents Clark, Kathy Simecek, 42, Dawn Gummo, 36, and Jennifer Hacker, 38, plus Carolyn Ruschak, 40, of Canton — must raise $2,300 to participate. This year, they’re hosting the Breast Cancer Hooter Run, a poker run for bikers, with all wheels welcome at noon Saturday (rain date June 20) at Geno’s, 7091 Lafayette Road, Lafayette Township. With entry set at $15 for a single rider and $20 for a double, the last bike leaves at 1 p.m. and must be back by 5 p.m. The run includes a 50/50 raffle.

Creative bikers will vie for a trophy awarded to the best decorated “Boobie Bike,” and the best poker hand wins $200. All proceeds will benefit Team Woo-Hooters.

Ruschak and Clark are hosting a second run the same time and day at Lew’s Bar, 3238 Lincoln Way East, Massillon.

“You can do car washes — I did one that raised $1,500 one time — but we did one another day and raised only $300,” Starman said. “We want this to be the biggest poker run ever in Ohio, possibly 1,000 bikes. We posted the information on some biker Web sites.”

“Poker seems to be what people like to do,” Hacker said. “We’ve sold hot dogs from the ‘wienie wagon,’ and we’ll do that again in July at Hawkins (in Medina). We look for different ways to raise money. We don’t like to keep asking the same people over and over for donations.”

Other fundraisers they’re hosting include poker tournaments and a night at the track from 4 p.m. to midnight June 13 at Lorain County Speedway, state Route 58, South Amherst. The speedway event includes photo ops with a race car driven by Sean Broski.

We might do a bunco day, too,” Gummo said.

On May 21, Hacker and Gummo put in eight miles of walking, pushing their youngest kids in jogging strollers. The team doesn’t often get to train together as a whole, thanks to hectic family and work schedules.

“We have routes mapped out,” Hacker said. “Today we combined a three-mile and a five-mile. Last year, we trained a lot, this year they’ve moved it up, so we’re a little crunched. The endurance isn’t as much a problem as wondering whether our feet will hold up.”

Walkers log about 22 miles the first day of the Susan G. Komen, 20 on day two and 16 to 18 miles on the final day.

Starman is a little worried about the heat, and she’s already planning ways to stay cool. Last year temperatures hit 95, but no matter what the weather conditions are, the teammates pull each other through.

“We all finish as a team,” Starman said.

“We wouldn’t leave anyone behind,” Hacker said. “We’ve adopted people from other teams who needed a boost. People along the way are incredible. We go through towns where people sit on lawn chairs to watch us go by. They hand out bottles of cold water. If we pass a fire station, we’ve had firemen cool us off with the firehoses.”

Hacker said when the first Komen walk was held, it lasted two days. “But you really need that third day to bond,” she said. “You really need each other to finish the walk. You go 12 miles plugged into your iPod, and then you’re asking yourself ‘What’s missing?’ What else? Oh, yeah, your friends. Friends are what you need.”

For information about other team fundraisers, visit www.teamwoohooters.com.

Contact Judy A. Totts at (330) 721-4063 or religion@ohio.net.