FREE TO ALL WITH VIDEO: ‘We needed this’
UCAN walk extra special after year of pandemic

Saturday, May 1, 2021
Greg Gilberto (right) and his wife, Jackie, complete the 10th annual UCAN Sarah Jarboe White Walk Saturday at the Danny Bell Cancer Center.
DAR/Alicea Little

Saturday morning’s United Cancer Assistance Network Sarah Jarboe White Walk was special for more reasons than it being the 10th walk in White’s memory.

After the 2020 Walk was forced to be held virtually because of the COVID-19 pandemic, being able to gather in person for this year’s Walk made it extra sweet.

“We needed this,” Melody Chailland, UCAN’s executive director, said after the event. “We needed today.”

Chailland estimates that roughly 500 people attended Saturday’s walk, a number that she was all the more pleased in light of the continuing pandemic.

“We had a really, really good turnout,” Chailland said. “I was surprised with people still fearing large gatherings that we had the good turnout. Looks like we are going to profit about $24,000.”

Chailland also was excited to see many familiar faces at the walk after not getting to do so for two years.

“There’s people who have been (here) since the very first walk and I got to see them today,” Chailland said. “It was so exciting because you know it means something to them — that’s something they’ve done as a family for 10 years and so I’m glad we were able to do that again.”

Chailland said that this year’s walk was a sign of things starting to return to normal.

“We’re starting to step towards normalcy, rebuilding our country and (rebounding) from last year,” Chailland said. “2020 was hard.”

Rev. Greg Gilberto, the pastor of Northpoint Church in Poplar Bluff, has been a part of the walk for eight years, in part because his wife, Jackie, is a nine-year cancer survivor herself.

Like Chailland, Gilberto was glad to be able to see old friends again.

“It’s just good to be (able to get) with people,” Gilberto said. “It was a beautiful day — it was like 70 degrees and sunny.”

Gilberto also was pleased with the turnout.

“We didn’t really advertise it, because we didn’t know what to expect,” Gilberto said. “It’s just an outpouring of hope for not only our community but … I think we’re on the other side of this crazy (pandemic).”

One of the more notable stories at Saturday’s walk was Jamie Holcomb, who has taken photos at every walk. Last year she battled breast cancer and she is now cancer-free.

“Whenever I saw my name on the back of the shirt, it was pretty touching,” Holcomb said.

Holcomb also was good friends with White, the namesake of the walk.

“That’s why I started doing this as far as photographing is because Sarah and I we’re really close,” Holcomb said. “When she passed away, this was just a great way for us to remember her (by) getting together every year ... then I ended up with cancer myself, so this year — and especially seeing my name on the back of the shirt with all those fantastic, wonderful, beautiful people who have fought cancer, it has just been humbling.”

Chailland also was glad to see Holcomb Saturday morning

I couldn’t wait to put my arms around her and hug her,” Chailland said.

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