Emily Schaefer

Do the LoCo Motion

Emily Schaefer didn't know how many friends she had until she was diagnosed with breast cancer last summer. Within days of hearing the news, her tennis buddies had mobilized to deliver dinner to her home three nights a week. The meals kept coming for six months.
They pitched in to help with her kids, accompanied her to chemo and radiation treatments and kept vigil while she underwent a bilateral mastectomy. 

To boost her spirits during the one-year ordeal, they organized a group road trip to Hilton Head Island to participate in the inaugural LoCo Motion, a walk-and-run fundraiser for breast cancer. Wearing T-shirts emblazoned with "Em's Breast Friends", some 40 friends and family members made the trek from Fayetteville, Winston-Salem and West Virginia to join her for the three-day, 30-mile event.

"I was touched by how many of my friends were willing to drive that far and give up a weekend to support me," said the 42-year-old Schaefer, of Fayetteville. "It was one of the big positives that came out of a difficult diagnosis."

Spearheading the gal pal booster club was Brooke Johnson, one of her former doubles partners. "We wanted to rally around Emily," Johnson said. "It seemed a lot to walk 10 miles back to back to back, but if someone going through chemo and losing her hair could make the trip down there and walk 30 miles, we could too."

Emily will return to Hilton Head Island again this fall to participate in the 2012 LoCo Motion set for Sept. 28-30. She will be joined by her husband, her four children and her ever-faithful BFFs.

In June, the group reunited for a "No Mo' Chemo" party to celebrate Emily's final treatment. During the festivities, LoCo Motion organizer Laura Morgan announced via video that she had arranged the donation of an oceanfront rental house the Schaefer family could use during this year's event.

"As a breast cancer survivor, I feel I have a responsibility now to continue to help raise money for cancer research," Emily said. "The treatment that saved my life came out of studies that receive funding from events like this. It really does make a difference."

Emily's dogged determination and can-do attitude has been an inspiration to her friends and family who watched her persevere without complaint during the 12 months she received the debilitating cancer-fighting drugs. "She would run four miles in the morning, go to chemo and play tennis in the evening," said her husband, orthopedic surgeon Dr. Dickson Schaefer. "She qualified for the state tennis championship in the middle of her treatment. If she had not lost her hair, you wouldn't have known she had cancer."

An avid tennis player and runner, Emily was the picture of health when she discovered an enlarged lymph node under her right arm. Although a mammogram screening and blood work came back normal, a biopsy of the tissue revealed it was cancer. Upon further testing, doctors found a tumor in her right breast. "It was shocking at first," she said. "I didn't have any history of breast cancer in my family and I had always been active."

Except for the required six-week ban on exercise after her surgery, she continued to play tennis throughout her treatment. When it came time for LoCo Motion, Emily had no trouble completing all three of the 10-mile routes. "I knew she was tough," her husband said. "I didn't know she was that tough. She made it look easy. The community really picked up her cause and supported her throughout the process," Dickson added. "Breast cancer turned out to be the best blessing you would never want."

Thur., Sept. 27: Community Kick-Off Party from 5 to 7 p.m. at Skull Creek Boathouse. Event is free and open to the public, but a $10 donation is requested at the door.
Fri. - Sun., Sept. 28 - 30: Three days/10 miles a day starting at 9 a.m. each day. Friday, the 10-mile route winds through the North Forest Beach area before heading out to the beach, culminating with a post-event party at the Beach Market. Saturday, the event moves to Callawassie Island, the first community in South Carolina to be designated a Community Wildlife Habitat by the National Wildlife Federation. Then it's back to Hilton Head for the final leg, an all-beach course, which starts and finishes in front of the Omni Hotel in Palmetto Dunes. Participants have the option of walking one, two or all three days.
For more info or to register: Visit www.DotheLoCoMotion.org or call (843) 540-3284.