The 5k for Kelli was created to honor our amazing sister, Kelli James, who passed away in 2006 at the age of 40.
She was born in Akron, Ohio to Karen Snyder and Woody Clough. Just before her 21st birthday she married her high school sweetheart, Barry James. They travelled the country during his fighter pilot training with the Air Guard and settled in Dayton where Kelli graduated magna cum laude from the University of Dayton with a Visual Arts degree. She worked as a graphic designer for many years and loved bright colors mixed with contemporary design. Being outside in the sunshine always made her happy and she especially enjoyed hiking, camping, rock climbing and waterskiing. Cooking was one of her many talents and she loved creating new recipes to share with family and friends. Because of Kelli, we were exposed to so many new, fun and exciting experiences that created memories we will cherish for a lifetime.
Kelli found out she had a very aggressive form of breast cancer when she was only 35 years old and had just given birth to her first child, Michael. She had a lumpectomy and we all optimistically thought everything would be fine. After her daughter, Aliisa was born in 2002 she stayed home with the kids where she received an immense amount of joy from motherhood. After her diagnosis, she became very interested in organic food and juicing to stay healthy and even got her kids to drink and enjoy wheat grass juice every day. Tragically, the previous lumpectomy was not enough to keep the cancer at bay so doctors ordered a mastectomy. Once again, we all optimistically thought everything would be fine. Even so, she wanted to connect with others with breast cancer and found a group called the Noble Circle Project through her Qi Gong teacher, Jan Lively, who has sadly since passed. The Noble Circle Project is a support group for women with breast cancer whose members gave her strength, comfort, and friendship. The support of her Noble Circle Sisters proved to be so crucial when in April of 2006, a scan revealed that the cancer had spread to an untreatable degree. For the next six months, she fought with everything she had but succumbed to this horrible disease on October 15, 2006 at Hospice of Dayton. Throughout her battle, Kelli refused to think negatively and instead bravely embraced her warrior spirit.
We want the 5k for Kelli to be a celebration of her life and a remembrance of all those who have lost their battle with breast cancer. Because a healthy lifestyle was so important to Kelli and now to us, we hope the 5k for Kelli will serve as a platform to educate the public on the benefits of healthy eating and exercise habits as breast cancer prevention and treatment. Our hope is that the funds raised from this event will help other women who are going through this confusing and very scary time which is why all of the proceeds from the 5k for Kelli will go to our own Breast Wishes Foundation which gives the gift of JOY to women living with breast cancer by granting their wishes for spa days, dinner dates, yoga retreats, financial assistance and even family vacations.