GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - A Gulfport school employee is about to take on the biggest challenge of her life. In July, she plans to take a three-day, 60 mile walk to help raise money and awareness for breast cancer. She wants to do it to honor three family members and all women touched by the disease.
Tammie Dedeaux-Gray has taken part in four Breast Cancer Walks in Biloxi and the Relay for Life in Gulfport. Now, she is training for her longest walk ever. She will walk 20 miles a day for three days. Sometimes, each step can be painful.
"Having fybromyalgia and sciatic nerve being aggravated, but you know what? I can do it," said Tammie Dedeaux-Gray of Pass Christian.
It is a cause that is very dear to her heart. In 2009, Dedeaux-Gray's sister-in-law died of breast cancer. Three years ago, her 81-year old mother also lost her life to breast cancer. Then, just five months ago, her sister was diagnosed with the same disease.
"It's heart wrenching," said Dedeaux-Gray.
Two of Dedeaux-Gray's co-workers at Gaston Point Elementary School are also breast cancer survivors. Then one day, while watching TV, a commercial came on.
"The Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer commercial and it just kind of flashed and it caught my eye. It just laid real heavy on my heart and I said, 'I feel like this is what I need to do. It's what the Lord wants me to do,'" she said.
So Dedeaux-Gray signed-up for the "Susan G. Komen Three-Day Walk" in Boston. In order to participate though, she needs to raise at least $2,300.
"My goal is to reach that $2,300 and more, because we all need to be aware of breast cancer, because it has touched, I'm sure, almost everybody's life," said Dedeaux-Gray.
Dedeaux-Gray has already received so much support on this journey. And she knows two other people will be cheering her on to cross the finish line.
"My sister-in-law is probably saying, 'Are you crazy?', and my mom is probably saying, 'You can do it, Tam!' Even if I don't make the 20 or 60 miles, I know she'd be pleased," said Dedeaux-Gray as tears filled her eyes.
So far, Dedeaux-Gray has raised $85 toward her $2,300 goal.
"I don't worry about reaching that $2,300 goal. I don't worry about the 20 miles a day. I don't worry about the 60-miles. I trust that God is going to get me through it. It's really not about the walk. It's about raising the money and raising awareness," she said.
If you would like to donate to Dedeaux-Gray's cause, visit her donation page: https://secure3.convio.net/npt/site/Donation2?idb=33552804&df_id=4240&FR_ID=1812&PROXY_ID=7000383&4240.donation=form1&PROXY_TYPE=20