US Olympic icon walks 444 miles of Natchez Trace in cancer fundraiser – Reuters

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Scott Hamilton is back in action.

No, the figure skating icon will not be laced. He will sit on a bike and cycle 444 miles Erase the Trace, a five-day ride along the Natchez Trace Parkway. The fundraiser that runs through Mississippi, Alabama and Tennessee is designed to raise $1.25 million in funding for a breakthrough cancer research grant for glioblastoma multiforme (GBM) to treat the most aggressive form of brain cancer.

Inspired by the story of Scott Williams, who is a GBM patient and contacted the 1984 Olympic champion‘s Scott Hamilton & Friends organization a year ago for help with fundraising. Not only did Hamilton put on a skating show to help out in 2021, he also took part in the final part of the first Erase the Trace. Now Hamilton will join Williams for the entire route from May 2-7.

“Last year’s Erase the Trace inspired me like no other event we’ve ever held,” Hamilton said. “The hope, drive and bravery of glioblastoma patient Scott Williams awoke a part of my heart that I didn’t realize needed waking up. From the moment we greeted Scott at the finish line at the end of his race, I knew it was something I had to do next year.

“I can’t wait to feel the wind on my face, the burn in my legs and the pounding of my heart as I too take on the 444 mile challenge. I’m so excited to know that with every press of the pedal , we are one step closer to a positive change in outcomes for people with brain cancer.

Erase the Trace refers to both the Natchez Trace itself and Williams’ battle with glioblastoma. Every mile in 2021 was run in honor or in memory of a specific person.

“Even with 100% removal of a glioblastoma multiforme tumor, there is still a trace of cancerous cells just waiting for an opportunity to attack again,” Williams said.

A cancer survivor himself, Hamilton has never completed a bike ride of this length or magnitude. He also hopes to attract friends, celebrities or not, to ride with him. Or to support the cause in any way.

“Even to this day, I don’t think I really understand the magnitude of the race I’m about to have,” admitted Hamilton, 63. “To physically walk the 444 miles of the Natchez Trace Parkway is truly such an achievement.”

So Hamilton worked with Johnny Burrell, a Nashville-based craniosacral therapist and record-breaking cyclist.

“I’m grateful for the experience of Johnny Burrell, who took me to the toughest part of the Natchez Trace to check my physical ability to handle it,” Hamilton added. “We covered 44 miles and it went pretty well. Other than that, I’ve been training on my exercise bike when I’m restricted by travel or weather, and have been out on the Trace to train as much as possible on my own. I hope and pray to be strong enough to complete the ride.

“I know that between Johnny and Scott Williams, who have both completed the ride, I will be in the best possible hands. And I hope my nerves don’t get the better of me.


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