WINONA- A Washington state woman is riding horseback across the country to raise awareness about cancer.
Along the way she is uncovering the humanity that battles the disease.
Winona couple Chuck and Gloria Bandy Tuesday night hosted Tracy Delp of Port Orchard, Wash., during her trek from Ocean City, Wash., to Cape Henlopen, Del., on her horse, Sierra, and with her traveling companion, her dog, Ursa.
Tracy Delp of Port Orchard, Wash., untacks her horse, Sierra, after arriving at the Chuck and Gloria Bandy home in Winona Tuesday afternoon. Delp is traveling cross country on horseback to help raise awareness about the effects of cancer. (Salem News photo by Kevin Howell)
Delp's Coast2Coast for Cancer, in association with the non-profit cancer awareness organizations Their Story is Our Story and The Riedel & Cody Fund, started on Mother's Day 2011 after more than two years of preparation as a tribute to her mother, a colon cancer survivor who succumbed to pancreatic cancer in 2008.
Her trip has taken her through parts of Idaho, Montana, South Dakota, Nebraska, Iowa, Illinois and Indiana prior to her travel through Ohio. She is scheduled to ride through Pennsylvania and Maryland before reaching her destination in Delaware.
More importantly, though, it has put her in contact with an outpouring of support from people across the nation that she said has reaffirmed her faith in society.
"We're living at a time when people want to do good, but don't know what to do," Delp said. "Sometimes we don't do much, but the little things add up. You don't realize the impact you have on other people."
With everyone having experienced some effect of cancer- whether to themselves or a loved one- Delp said besides the amazing amount of assistance she receives from strangers, she has been overwhelmed by the affect her trip makes on those who offer their help.
"The first three letters of cancer are C-A-N," she said. "You're always hearing about the bad, seeing the worst in people. But I've gotten to see the very best in people. The vast majority are good people."
Delp, who had previously worked as an animal behavioral consultant, said that her only expense so far has been for gas for her truck and trailer, which she has turned over to volunteers at a various locations to drive to her next stop. Any money she has raised has been through selling trailer space to sponsors who have been affected by cancer, as well as Coast2Coast memorabilia. All other necessities such as lodging and meals have been willingly provided by residents along her route, she said.
In addition to the Bandys, Delp is being assisted by Winona horseriding enthusiast Sally Stamp, who is helping Delp develop a route to East Palestine today.
"I'm happy to be able to help her and wish her the best of luck on her trip," Stamp said. "[A cross country trip] is a lifelong dream for a horseman. There will always be someone willing to step up and help. We call it a cowgirl camaraderie."
Gloria Bandy, who lost her best friend to cancer, said she had the opportunity to host Delp after a family friend from North Lawrence near Canal Fulton discovered Coast2Coast online, volunteered to house her for a night and recruited Bandy as a host, as well. Other friends of the Bandys, Matt and Melissa Johnston of Hartley Road in Knox Township, served as host in between.
"We found out her route and were able to offer our homes and happy to do it," Gloria Bandy said.
For information about Delp and Coast2Coast for Cancer, visit coast2coastforcancer.webs.com.